Flower Border

Blue-flowered plants are not renowned for their winter and spring blooms, and it is usually the start of summer before their impact becomes apparent. Of course, as with every generalization, there are exceptions, like the rosy-purple Rhododendron praecox and other related species that show their colours in late winter and early spring. But for the main burst of blue, mauve and purple flowers, we have to wait for eariy summer, though there is then the reward of enjoying these colours right through to late autumn Asters are especially famed for late summer and autumn flower colour. Indeed, Aster novae angliae and Aster novi belgii are popularly known as Michaelmas Daisies because they flower on Michaelmas Day, the 29th of September. The flowers are usually still m bloom on Old Michaelmas Day, the 10th of October. Introduced into England during the early 1700s. these asters had particular significance in the calendar of many agricultural workers during recent centuries, because their flowering time coincided with the statute sessions, when wage rates were fixed

The number of blue, mauve or purple hardy herbaceous perennials is large, ranging from the popular, upright Purple Cone Flower. Echinacea purpurea, to the reliable dahlias of autumn, treasured as much for cut flowers as for garden colour. Dahlias vary enormously in size and shape, and their classification is given in detail in this chapter, on pages 24-26. Such is the fascination of dahlias that each year we are blessed with new varieties, some to last generations and to become part of a flower enthusiasts vocabulary, while others soon pass into obscurity.

Single theme blue borders have immediate impact, thanks to their originality and eye-catching qualities, but they can often be enhanced further with patches of demure white or delicate pale lemon-yellow (but not of blinding bright yellow, which commands too much attention in full sunlight and suppresses the beauty of pastel blue tints).

Colours, though, are a personal and often intimate choice. If blue, mauve or violet are your treasured colours, then the plants in this and the following four chapters are bound to appeal to you

Left Delphinium Thunderstorm with its startling blue spires, creates a dominant display, in both herbaceous and mixed borders Its tall stems should be tied to strong stakes.

Above Agapanthus praecox

This half-hardy evergreen creates dense 5-7-5cm (2-3inJ wide heads of pale blue flowers during mid to late summer

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