blue flowers
Blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 28, 2010

March 29th, 2010
Blue Flowers

  • Muscari racemosum. Blue bottles. (aka, grape hyacinths. The “grape” refers to the way the flowers are clustered like a bunch of grapes, not the color.)
  • Nemophila insignis. Baby blue eyes.
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica. Spanish bluebells
  • Lupinus texensis. Texas bluebonnet.
  • Commelinantia anomala. False dayflowers. (solid blue and a bicolor)

Recently I tweeted about Suntory having GMO’d a “blue” rose. In response, @CarolineSays linked to a blog post by Chris Clarke Daze of Whine and Roses, which scoffed at the very idea that Suntory’s rose was blue. Lilac or mauve, maybe, but not blue.

In flower terms, “blue” is a pretty expansive color term–just like black, which typically is a really, really, deep red. So I decided to inventory my own blue flowers. Of course, the camera lies. Depending upon the settings in your camera, the setting on your monitor, or any number of other variables (photos shot in full sunlight, bright shade, full shade), colors are going to differ.

Massed, bluebonnets are a deep indigo or jewel-toned blue. (At least mine are. Some are a more pale sky blue.) Spanish bluebells look anemic beside them. Baby blue eyes are a hazy day sky blue. But in the photo they look almost lavender…or like my favorite crayon as a child “periwinkle blue”. In life, false dayflowers are an electric, aniline blue. In my photo, they have a reddish tint compared with the bluebonnets.

I wanted to see if some of the “lavender” blues looked more like blue when compared to flowers that I think of as purple in the garden: Texas mountain laurel, tradescantia, and verbena. And they do. The color of the Suntory rose seems similar to the periwinkle blue of the rosemary and baby blue eyes.

blue flowers
Purple and blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 29, 2010

So I’m not going to get on Suntory because their new flower isn’t really “blue”. Rather, I’m still disappointed that they think developing a blue rose is worth messing around with genetically modified organisms.

Lupinus texensis
2010-02-02. Bluebonnet seedlings. Given all the rain in central Texas since September, the bluebonnet plants are large and plentiful.

February 2nd, 2010
Setsubun, Halfway Through the Season

Dateline: February 2, 2008

Anemone coronaria
The Anemone coronaria has sprouted adding to my anticipation of spring. This is the first year I’ve grown them.

In the days when people spent more time observing nature than television, this week marks a significant moment in the year, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Many cultures celebrate this turning point in winter as the beginning of the new year, the beginning of spring, even though for many the worst of winter is yet to come. For Christians, the end of the Christmas Season and the liturgical year is celebrated at Candlemas. Americans try to forecast the weather on Groundhog Day. The Chinese New Year (based on a combination of solar and lunar calendars) begins. And the Japanese celebrate setsubun, literally halving the season, driving evil spirits from their house while inviting good ones to stay on the eve of spring.

Anticipation of spring is running high here at Zanthan Gardens. The Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, are nosing up. Spanish bluebells
I planted them to remind AJM of home. Traditionally the English have used Spanish bluebells in their gardens because they are larger than the native English bluebells of the woods. However, recent worries about non-native plants have created controversy over Spanish bluebells. I’m surprised they do so well in Texas. They’ve come back every year neither increasing much nor diminishing.

I was very excited to step out into the garden after a few cold wintry days and see the Tulipa clusiana. I was afraid that with all of the rain last summer that these species tulips had finally rotted away.Tulipa clusiana
Tulipa clusiana likes hot baking summers and doesn’t require any chilling period to bloom. As such, it is the ideal tulip for Austin, where most tulips are difficult to naturalize.

I worried that last summer’s rain might have also done in the delicate triandrus daffodil “Hawera”. This is one of the few daffodils I’ve grown which has come back reliably over many many years and flowers without any chilling.
Narcissus triandrus Hawera

Like Yolanda Elizabet at Bliss, I’m excited to see the summer snowflakes coming up. Unlike many bulbs, they don’t mind Austin’s clay soil.
Leucojum aestivum

The overwintering annuals have put on lots of growth–or at least the ones that I managed to thin and replant during December have. Batchelor buttons

This is the second year I’ve grown bachelor buttons, Centaurea cyanus. In fact, these plants are from the seeds I had leftover from last year’s seed packet. I’m so pleased with their perfomance (and how easy they are to grow) that they have one a place in my permanent repertoire. Behind the bachelor buttons in this photo are the baby blue eyes, Nemophila insignis, which desperately need to be thinned.

This weekend promises to be beautiful, sunny and in the 70s. I have loads of pruning, weeding, and transplanting to do (and watering because it’s been so dry). What joy it will be to be out in the garden, though, checking over all the plants just waiting to burst forth in bloom.

Update: February 2, 2010

In some ways, Spring 2010 couldn’t be more different than Spring 2008. Then we were at the beginning of the drought and now we’ve had 5 months of cool, rainy weather and a killer freeze. All the overwintering annuals are large and plentiful and trying to bloom well ahead of schedule. Because this winter has been cloudier and cooler, this copious tender growth keeps getting nipped back by weekly freezes.

The Anemone coronaria did not survive the drought. Nor did my narcissus. But the Tulipa clusiana, Spanish bluebells, and Leucojum aestivum carry on rain or shine.

Consoloda ambigua
2010-02-02. Larkspur buds. The larkspur, which are usually in full bloom in April, keep sending up flower stalks that are cut down with each freeze.

While the rainy weather has allowed the self-sown annuals (including weeds) to proliferate, it has kept me from most of my gardening chores. I haven’t even sown many new packets of seeds such as the bachelor buttons yet. I have a short window of opportunity in which to sow seeds around Christmas after the leaves fall. If the weather is not encouraging or I’m too busy with the holidays, then I miss my chance before the heat sets in. Not that I won’t try anyway. This year might be a long cold spring letting us have flowers into May. Well, we can dream.

photo: Nemophila insignis baby blue eyes
2010-04-03. Two shades of blue in a central Texas garden: baby blue eyes and Texas bluebonnets.

April 12th, 2005
Nemophila insignis/phacelioides

Valerie shared some seeds for baby blue eyes and now in their second spring in my garden they have really spread themselves around. Like the bluebonnets, larkspur, and Love-in-a-Mist, in central Texas they grow over the winter and flower in the spring.
photo: Nemophila insignis baby blue eyes
2005-03-25. Nemophila phacelioides. Austin, TX

I’ve learned recently that there are various species of baby blues eyes. My plants are descended from seeds gathered, I believe, along the roadways of south Austin. Given that information, I realize it is probably our Texas native Nemophila phacelioides. The N. insignis (aka N. menziesii) sold by some seed companies is native to California and Oregon. This is one time that the Latin names prove more confusing than the common ones.

photo: Nemophila phacelioides baby blue eyes
2005-03-30. Baby blue eyes in front of a mass of spiderwort. Another week or so and this section of the yard will look very weedy.