Archive for June 11th, 2014


I was absolutely delighted when I strolled through the garden this morning and found that the first blue poppy opened today. It is every bit as gorgeous as I imagined it would be. I was inspired to try a blue poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) after seeing the famous Reford Gardens (jardins de metis) display. I started out with just one plant to see if it would be hardy here.


When the plant survived the winter and made it clear that it intended to bloom, I bought another couple of plants to join it and make a little group. The flowers are about 4 inches across and are held in a clump at the top of a stalk that stands about 3 feet tall. Himalayan Blue Poppies are short-lived perennials. They set seed, but have a reputation of being hard to start. I’ll have to give it a try. Meanwhile, I am enjoying today’s bloom.


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A few snippets of Centaurea montana remained in the overgrown garden remnants that were here when we moved to Willow House, and it has carried on without regard for instructions from the new head gardener. It seeds itself where it pleases, but unlike the lupins, is not too bountiful. I should rescue some of it and give it its own official place in the garden, at least until it decides to roam again. This year, this little clump is growing amongst the daylilies.

Centaurea montana has an assortment of common names including Mountain Bluet, Perennial Bachelor’s Buttons and Perennial Cornflower. You can see from the flowers above where the descriptive term ‘cornflower blue’ comes from.


Last summer, a couple of hybrids convinced me to take them home from the nursery. The plants settled in and overwintered well. As early summer bloomers, they are almost finished flowering now. The flowers above belong to ‘Amethyst Dream’. It has formed a compact clump, about 18 inches in height. The spidery flowers have attracted a pollinator and, to the bottom right, a spider!


My favorite is ‘Amethyst In Snow’. It has formed a larger clump, about 30 inches tall and broad, and produced a good display of flowers. In addition to their flowers, centaurea also feature interesting flower buds that are distinctively shaped like pineapples or thistles. The foliage is also quite pleasing.


In the group portrait below, Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’ is on the bottom right. The brilliant yellow belongs to a low-growing shrub, Genista ‘Bangle’. The bright peony to the rear is ‘Adrienne’.


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