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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in blue flowers (3)


What Happened to my Blue Dutch Irises?

As someone who loves blue flowers, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe the joy I experience when I see the blue variety of Dutch Irises in bloom. Nor can I begin to express how desolate I felt when I realized that this bulb will bloom for only two seasons here in USDA Zone 4.

Although this flower is just as important to my wife as it is to me - she used it as an accent flower in the pink-yellow-blue centerpieces for our wedding reception, many years ago - we are about to banish it from our flower beds.

The gardener, who strives to create an easy-care garden, has little interest in replanting the same spring flowering bulb each fall, or even every other fall. This hobbyist  prefers to plant a bulb, knowing that the work is an investment that will reap dividends for several years to come. That is why I plant daffodils and narcissus, species tulips, crocus, and several varieties of the Darwin hybrid tulip. All seem to re bloom for many years, just like most perennials do.

If catalogs that sell spring flowering bulbs would inform us honestly that Dutch Irises need to be replaced regularly, perhaps fewer gardeners would consider buying them. I will no longer plant them because I consider them an unwise investment and a waste of precious time and energy.

One of the joys of gardening is the thrill of what will bloom next. Anticipating the experience of seeing a spring flowering bulb in bloom and then realizing that it has withered underground forever, is not what enjoyable gardening is all about.

The other day, I received an email from a client inquiring if I had actually planted the blue Dutch Irises she had asked for, over three years ago. She knows how eager I am to please my clients, and being certain that she did ask for them, was puzzled when they did not bloom this spring. Even I was puzzled, because I remember not only her request but also the time I spent planting them. After reading her message, I went into my garden to look for the ones that bloomed there last year. The spot where they once flowered so beautifully was now bare.

In the future, there will be no more blue Dutch Iris bulbs planted in my garden or that of my clients. If I want to enjoy this flower, I will visit the nearest florist shop where the supply is more reliable. There I will choose a bouquet of the taller variety, just like the ones my wife selected for our wedding centerpieces.


I’ve Got the Camp-anula Glom-erata Blues!

Campanula glomerata, the species, from glomerata, the species, planted over fifteen years ago, is gone. In a garden where neatness was paramount, it was an unwelcome visitor. It appeared messy in a new flowerbed that was barren and sparse, because all of the infant perennials were too tiny to fill up negative spaces. Furthermore, it self-seeded beyond my ability to control it. In addition, it sprawled all over, spread too quickly, bloomed for only two weeks, which is too short a time, didn’t look impressive, and didn’t project from far. Eventually, it was discarded when I found it wanting. I was happier gardener without it.

Today, my garden is filled with mature, stately perennials. There is less room for plants to self-seed. Large swaths of pastel colored flowers, that over time filled in the sparseness, are now better able to benefit from a  campanula's blue flowers. Furthermore, the hard-packed earth of yesteryears, that made maintenance a challenge, has been amended so that it is soft and workable. Plant spread is easier to control, seedlings are easier to dig out, and there are enough stately perennials in the bed to enhance lower growing plants.

I've begun to give Campanulas another chance; after all, they are blue - my favorite color. Two new varieties of Campanula glomerata attracted my attention. However, I am skeptical about the long term because I am not a diligent deadheader and that is what is required to keep the plants blooming throughout the summer.

Campanula glomerata Superba from Seemnemaailm.eeTwo years ago, I planted Campanula glomerata Dahurica in a client’s garden and I was happy with its performance.

Campanula glomerata Freya from Last year, I planted Campanula glomerata Freya in my own garden and was more than pleased.

A one and two year span is too short a time for a gardener to report definitively about these plants. Therefore, all I can share is that they appear to be neat, they bloom for two or three months, and they make me very happy. The technical information about them, that follows, has been gleaned from the trade.

Campanula glomerata Superba from Robsplants.comCampanula glomerata dahurica 'Superba' has bell shaped flowers that are purple-blue with a glistening almost metallic sheen; they are borne in clusters atop stalks twenty inches tall above the basal foliage. Its thick, low growing and spreading clump should be dug up for division every third or fourth year. Promising to bloom from May to July, if spent flowers are deadheaded and foliage trimmed, the leaves will usually induce a second flush of flowers and the plant will be less likely to reseed vigorously. This sun-loving perennial will be long-lived only if it receives regular irrigation, as it is not drought hardy.

Campanula glomerata Freya from Whiteflowerfarms.comCampanula glomerata Freya is shorter than Dahurica; it grows only sixteen inches tall. However, blooms make up about two thirds of its height. Instead of bells, full clusters of small star-shaped lilac-purple flowers are borne almost all the way up the stems. Unlike other glomeratas, this variety is more floriferous. Like other glomeratas, it requires dividing every three to four years and spent flowers must be deadheaded. It is sturdy, non-invasive, and compact. While this perennial may be planted in full sun or part shade, it grows taller in the shade. At this time, there is no consensus on how long Freya will bloom. Some promise that itwill flower continuously from May to August, some say May to July, and others report May and June. Mine need another season before I can report accurately on this subject.


A Blue Delphinium Will Make me High.

Blue is my favorite color in the garden and anywhere else. Most of my dress shirts, T shirts and polo style shirts are all in varying shades of light blue. It appears prominently in the paintings on our walls and as accents in our living and dining rooms. We also use it as a background for our dishes when we set the table. Today, it is hard to find light blue tablecloths or placemats to replace the older ones; my wife and I never stop searching for them.

Blue is the most powerful drug that I take. Although few scientists will agree that medication consumed visually will have any health benefits, I stick to my story. That color, especially in a flower, is a narcotic. It sooths, it hypnotizes, it is euphoric, and it makes me high.

This morning, fellow garden writer, Tom Fisher, of Timber Press, posted an article about delphiniums and illustrated the post with the photo above. I am not certain if the picture belongs to Timber Press or to Dowdeswell’s, the New Zealand grower of extraordinary delphiniums featured and linked to in the article. For that reason, I am unable to accredit it properly. Instead, please enjoy the image. Mr. Fisher and I agree that no flower delivers a blue fix as effectively as delphiniums do, even if they require a lot of work. Read the entire Timber Press blog here.