Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter Blues? How About Some Summer "Blues"?

The start of winter brings on the "blues" for many people. Our gardening is on hold for the most part until late March and shorter days (and less sunlight) may even trigger symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in some of us. It's not unusual to get a little depressed over the next four months but as I've always said, hopefully your garden has colorful conifers offering form and interest as well as ornamental bark, berries and ornamental grasses. That winter "scene" out in the garden can help carry us over until spring. Regardless, the "blues" hit us all to some degree or another. As your seed catalogs roll in and that "eye candy" starts to get you thinking about next year, why not get the "summer blues" by focusing on more blue annuals out in the garden for 2012. I think blue is the most underutilized color in the garden (with white a close second). You can't go wrong with blue, whether it is a blue conifer, shrub, grass, perennial or annual. However, there are some neat summer annuals that will over vivid blue coloration for a significant period of time in the garden. At the top is amethyst flower (Browallia sp.) which we plant by the thousands in our shade garden and partly shaded locations. It blooms fine in very little light and offers a vivid blue (also comes in white). Directly below is the 'Rhythm & Blues' petunia (Petunia sp.) which also features a clean, white edge on all the flower petals. Further below is one of the many trailing or "carpet type" lobelias (Lobelia erinus). This is the variety 'Techno Hot Electric Blue' and it looks great in to early July but this species despises the summer heat and begins to fade. It is considered what is called a "cool-season annual."
Today was windy and quite chilly with temperatures around 38 degrees F all day. That wind had a bite to it and poor Larry and Bill O. toughed it out in the gardens all day. The guys spent quite a bit of time finishing some HLS preparations and also spent significant time straightening and securing some of our temporary pine trees that are like sails with all this wind moving them back and forth on their anchoring stakes. Bill also did some garden clean-up which is a never ending job any time of the year. Maury, Glenn and I met this morning to talk about our tree sale for 2012. Last year, RBG paired with the Golden "K" Kiwanis Club to help offer their annual tree sale and it was quite profitable (look for it in April!). We look forward to our joint venture again and today was a good start with some of the details. Maury, Dick H. and Rollie met and did some work at the other building with Rollie heading out later to install a new memorial brick. We also saw Pat, Mark S., Gary and some others today as well. I had some meetings and had a nice lunch with Big John and Janice. I also met with Kris and Kelli as we are formulating our plan of attack for 2012 education at RBG. Directly below are the large, dangling bells of the bellflower (Campanula medium 'Blue Improved'). We've grown this species simply as an annual although it does have some hardiness too and is considered a biennial by others. The second photo down shows the interesting shade of blue on the annual pimpernel (Anagallis 'Wildcat Orange')
Remember when considering blues that there is a very wide and subjective range of blues out there. These range from the traditional sky blues to navy blues to those blues that many would consider are more in the "purply" range of blue. Regardless of the shades of blue you use, consider the value of mass planting or grouping larger spaces with these plants. While these plants look beautiful singularly, they add more drama and impact as a grouping. Blue falls in to what would be considered a "cool" color in the garden. Cool colors also include green and maroon and help lend depth to a composition as well as a visual balance with the brighter, or "hot" colors. Hot colors include the yellow, oranges and reds that, while excellent in the garden, can be quite overwhelming if not "tamed" with some blues and/or other cool colors. There are lots of theories on color and I'm not one to preach. My only comment is to consider using more blues. Below, in sequence, are wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri 'Torrie Blue'Italic) which likes part shade, dwarf morning glory (Convolvulus tricolor 'Royal Blue Ensign') which isn't a vine but a scrambler that we used in our blue/yellow theme this year and finally, at the bottom is a beautiful shade of blue on the baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) which is a native of the West coast and is a wonderful, cool season annual for us (looks good in May and June). What a nice shade of blue! This is a smattering of blues offered by annuals. In future blogs, I'll talk more about blues from other types of plants and we'll cover more on color in general.

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