Blue is a color that pleases me best when used just for itself - what some people would call an accent - as if it were some remarkable new auk worth contemplation just for itself.
I have tried, just once, using blue in a great mass, as children sometimes dream of 10 pounds of chocolate cherries, and found it indigestible and oppressive.
But I notice that without thinking of it consciously. I wind up giving blue the place of honor over the years, and I mention it not to advance any claim to being descended from bees (whose favorite color it is) but because I never ran into a gardener who did not like blue.
You might think the same thing could be said of red or yellow or purple, and I do not want to make any large deal of it; but I mention the subject of blue flowers because I suspect there is indeed some numinous aspect to blue and that other gardeners sense it as much as I do.
Last fall I bought a number of pansies at Beltsville nursery, glad to see the plants superbly grown and perfect for planting out in October. During the winter two-thirds of them died, a phenomenon I have come to expect in winters up here. But of the survivors, two-thirds were a blue pansy called 'Azure Blue,' and if God gives me strength and memory, I will plant a lot more of it next fall.
I have it and there, but most handsomely in a half whisky barrel that contains a twisted willow. The willow is that electric green, both sharp and melting, that has pleased gardeners for some aeons, and the surface of the dirt is pretty solid now with the blue pansies.
I have a Siberian iris now in glory that owes its beauty to the uncommonly graceful placement of its stalk and its elegantly recurved leaves, more than to the perfection of its flowers. It is supposed to be the old 'Perry's Blue' but I doubt it, since not even a catalogue writer could call it sky blue, which is what Perry's iris is supposed to be.
Mine is blue-violet, and you would never think of calling it blue at all, unless you are color blind (as an infinitude of people are, especially fanciers of irises).
It is very elegant, all the same, with its little white patch at the throat. Some Siberians bloom with the stems jammed together like a Roman fascia, as if they had gone rather berserk, but it is worth poking about to get Siberians that have grace as well as mass.
When I first grew the hardy geranium 'Johnson's Blue,' which is a cranesbill and not a greenhouse geranium, I was annoyed that it was almost red in its purple coloring. But the hotter the season got the bluer it got until it was finally an intense and seemingly pure blue. I now regard it with considerable patience in May, knowing that in June it will be true blue. A moral there, probably.
One of the pretty forget-me-nots is called Myosotis scorpioides - and some day I must investigate the name, but can say now it does not have scorpions in it. Once I was stung on the chest by a scorpion and it was unpleasant but no worse than a wasp sting. And there were no forget-me-nots on that island either.
Anyway, this particular plant likes to have an inch or two of water over its earth at all times, so of course I do not provide it.
It sits in a half-barrel that is primarily sacred to the violet-stemmed taro, which sulks in a dishpan in my bathroom all winter and moves out in May. This tub also has a quill-leafed rush from seed borne by the wind and in the summer it also will have a tremendous papyrus of the Nile, one of the most beautiful of sedges. And the forget-me-not is supposed to run around the base of all these and spill over the edge.
I do not keep these plants under water, as they would prefer, since the water would not be deep enough for fish, and without fish there would be mosquitoes. So I keep the dirt saturated, but not covered, with water, and they make do.
There is no such thing as blue rose, but various roses are violet or dusty-slaty-gray violet leaning either toward blue or toward red.
The old 'Cardinal de Richelieu' is in bloom, blue-violet, and 'Reine des Violettes,' a red-violet that fades off.
My wife dislikes all of them, so they eke out an undignified existence back of the shed where I can go and admire them without rude comments from others.
We have wandered a trifle from the topic of blue flowers as crown jewels, perhaps, so I shall sign off with a salute to the false indigo, Baptisia australis, which has spikes of pea flowers like a lupine or a thermopsis only lavender-blue, and you would call it blue rather than lavender, I think. It has glaucous handsome leaves, a little like a meadow rue, and it rarely needs staking. It is handsome with pink Japanese peonies and yard-wide clumps of hosta, especially the glaucous-leaved H. seiboldiana. Or anything else. CAPTION: Picture, no caption