January Blues

Bad Hatters Tea Club January Blues Her Way at Crabtree Gardens 2

The holiday bustle is over and the bills start to arrive faster than the brief bloom of a morning glory flower, but I have a different take on “having the blues” because I searched my stash of photos and came up with this heavenly selection of garden beauty.

Ipomoea purpurea Grandpa Ott's morning glory

Ipomoea purpurea Grandpa Ott’s morning glory

The first blue I’m sharing is Grandpa Ott’s morning glory, intermingling with the foliage of sweet autumn clematis on a wire fence. I love that yellow contrast of the clematis foliage against the blue of the flower, even though the darker green heart-shaped foliage of morning glory alone can be beautiful. (Floating Hearts post) Seen in the photo below, morning glory is winding through the amaranthus.

Grandpa Ott's morning glory and Elephant Head amaranthus at Crabtree Gardens Wedding Pergola

Grandpa Ott’s morning glory and Elephant Head amaranthus at Crabtree Gardens Wedding Pergola

Spring is really not that far off so I’m focusing forward and looking to the sky to see that glorious blue that surrounds us everyday. The blue color we see in the sky is the reflection of light in the molecules of the earth’s atmosphere.   Blue is a difficult color to see from a distance, so when planning gardens, it’s best to plant blue flowers where they can be seen up close.

Crabtree Gardens Blue Sky

Crabtree Gardens Blue Sky

Historically in January the Northeast US is covered with snow and ice, and lest not forget up to three feet of frost in the ground, but as of now (mid January) we seemed to have escaped this fate so far.  Warmer than average temps here in Northeastern PA are cultivating my feelings of premature spring fever.  The ground is soaked pleasantly reminding me of those cold wet springs that our area is known for.  Buds are swelling and tricking me into believing that its time to get out and get moving, but the sensible part of me knows that this is just a tease, a mid-January warm-up. Yesterday we were able to have a gift tree planted in the garden (yes in the middle of January).

I believe in celebrating life’s heavenly blessings no matter how small they seem!  JOY!

Crabtree Gardens Robin Eggs Spring 2012

Crabtree Gardens Robin Eggs Spring 2012

We have some really rich blues here throughout the year, beginning with the annual forget-me-nots myosotis and the woodland bulbs Siberian squills scilla siberica both blooming in early to mid-spring.

Forget-me-not  myosotis

Forget-me-not myosotis

Siberian Squills  scillia siberica

Siberian Squills scillia siberica

In early summer, Tradescantia (unsure of this cultivar) or more commonly known as spiderwort is another heavenly blue flower that grows here thanks to a fellow gardener who shared a small piece with us.  Spiderwort gets its name from the fragile spider web-like filaments that surround the anthers of the flower upon very close inspection.

Tradescantia Crabtree Gardens

Another summer blue beauty is chicory Cichorium intybus a biennial herb that many consider a common roadside weed.  I highly value it for it’s culinary uses as the leaves are highly superior to dandelion in salads and the roots can be dried and used as a coffee additive to reduce the bitterness and caffeine, but mostly because it has this glorious stunningly beautiful blue flower.

Cichorium intybus  Chicory

Cichorium intybus Chicory

We allow it to self sow at the Cottage.  It’s rare to see white chicory, but in the next photo, you’ll see some happily intermingling with the blue.

Chicory at Cottage at Crabtree Gardens

Chicory at Cottage at Crabtree Gardens

And in another shade of blue we welcome the balloon flower Platycodon grandifloris. This carefree perennial gets the name “balloon flower” because of the popping sound made by squeezing the air from the unopened flowers.  It doesn’t seem to hurt the flower, as it will still bloom.

Balloon blues

Balloon Flower platycodon grandifloris

Balloon flowers are usually a solid color, but we were lucky enough to have a striped one show up this past summer during the first week in July.  We called it “Stars and Stripes”. We are waiting to see if the seedlings will be striped.

Striped Balloon Flower Crabtree Gardens July 2012

Striped Balloon Flower Crabtree Gardens July 2012

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’ lives up to its name, blooming throughout the summer and early fall with these gorgeous pom-pom shaped flowers that steal the show against an evergreen background (older camera here sorry for the poor quality).

Hydrangea Macrophylla 'Endless Summer'

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’

Now I may be exaggerating the blue color a little here, but campanula or clustered bellflower campanula glomerata is a workhorse in our gardens and I’m including it in the blue list.  This easy care, happily mingling perennial is welcome absolutely anywhere, as it puts on a show for weeks in late spring/early summer in our Zone 5b/6 gardens. I love to use it as a filler flower because we are all about filling open ground.

Campanula Blue Flowers January Blues Crabtree Gardens

Clustered bellflower campanula glomerata

And finally I must include some unnatural blues here because I just get delighted seeing them in the garden.  First on my list must be our old blue tool shed which was moved from a former home and apparently used as a guard shack at some point, then turned into a dog house. Finally it was rescued by us when we bought the home and painted this periwinkle color to be used as our little tool shed.

Periwinkle Tool Shed Crabtree Gardens

Periwinkle Tool Shed Crabtree Gardens

And with that same can of paint, this vintage concrete planter was given a new look too. The heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ has been in this same pot for over 6 years. It remains here all winter and returns every spring.

Vintage concrete pot with heuchera ' Palace Purple'

Vintage concrete pot with heuchera ‘Palace Purple’

We do have a few whimsical touches throughout our gardens like this blue frog which just happened to be the same color as our shed and pot, so it hopped in our cart and came home with us a few years back. We gave it a job as our “watch frog”.

Periwinkle Watch Frog

Periwinkle Watch Frog

What are your favorite blues? We’d like to know so please post a comment or feel free to post a photo over on our facebook page.


About crabtreegardens

I am a passionate decorator and the head gardener at Crabtree Gardens, LLC, which is a five acre naturalized garden located in Drums, PA. I advocate chemical-free, low maintenance gardening methods and working along with nature. I'm a freelance garden writer and member of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators.
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18 Responses to January Blues

  1. Sandi, You bring JOY to the January Blues…How Beautiful!!!! I am counting the days until spring!!!!
    Thank you for sharing your passion. :)))

  2. I envy you your campanula. It’s kind of borderline here – too hot and muggy. I compensate with bog sage (salvia uliginosa), one of my favorite blues in the garden. It’s a gorgeous clear light blue and it blooms from June through November.

  3. Chris Leskosky says:

    What a JOYful way to turn the winter blues to a big 🙂 Thank you!

  4. Keeping positive on the JOY Chris!

  5. P.E.A.C.E. says:

    What a lovely post! I like the addition of your robin’s eggs and blue sky shots too. I look forward to my spring bulbs of blue Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-snow) coming up, and in summer I enjoy the huge clump of Catmint (Nepeta) in my front yard garden. You have inspired me to see about adding ‘Clustered bellflower campanula glomerata’ and perhaps some Forget-Me-Nots. Terrific post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. gardeningshoe says:

    What beautiful photos, Sandi! Blue is a great colour for us here as it shines out in the early evening, just when we want to sit down and enjoy looking at the garden. My favourite blue is Salvia uliginosa (bog sage), although I am extremely fond of a number of blue Geraniums and you have just reminded me about how much I love chicory blue – thank you!

  7. Jean says:

    Sandi, What a treat all these blues are. I also love your striped balloon flower. I’ve gotten self-sown hybrids of tradescantia in my garden that sometimes bloom in two-toned colors, but I’ve never had this happen with balloon flower. I have noticed, however, that these flowers seem particularly prone to mutated forms; every so often I’ll get one that has about 7 petals instead of 5 and looks like a child’s drawing of the sun when it opens.

  8. Jean, I’m really hoping that we get more of the striped balloon flowers from the seeds, but only time will tell. Interesting about the mutation, I’ve never had that happen…yet 🙂 Thanks!

  9. Sandi, this is a ‘joy’ full post, indeed! 🙂 And I had no idea that chicory was so beautiful, although we do drink it in our coffee down here in the South. It will certainly be added to my seed order list.
    If I feel the winter blues coming on again, I’ll just return here and enjoy your beautiful blues instead! ~ Marsha

  10. Chicory Rocks! Great set of captures by the way.

  11. Accepting that as a huge compliment coming from you…..:) Thanks so much.

  12. wanderoneday says:

    I love the robin’s eggs! Such a simple photo, but the pop of color really makes it stand out. I like your tips about planting blue in gardens too – I didn’t know you’re supposed to plant them somewhere easily viewed or risk making them too hard to see!

  13. Blue, my favorite colour, thank you for giving me so many blue things. 🙂

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