Alkanet, Italian Bugloss- neither name is very appealing but I’m here to testify that if you are a connoisseur of the color blue this big showy perennial is for you. To 4′ tall multiple spikes bear rich, deep, true blue flowers in one bodacious cloud. This form is not only a superior blue, but its a more reliable perennial. Most live 2-3 years but this often persists for longer. This borage forms a basal rosette of rough leaves- this is important to identify the inevitable seedlings- they are dark, dark green and spiny. Blooms first year from seed. A Spectacular plant for a young garden, a dry garden, wild border or in its most classic home the cottage garden. Full sun and average to enriched soil that drains quickly. Light consistent water to establish then drought adapted. Long, long blooming plant that often has bumble bees fast asleep in the cup shaped flowers. Very cool. Obvious pollinator gem. Very climate adapted plant.
Cool mediterranean annual that we love for its complex combination of bract and flower colors. To 14″ tall the nodding bell shaped flowers are blue with a white ring around the lip. The base of these flowers is yellow. Large bracts protect the flowers and turn from blue green to shades of indigo as they mature. A cool season annual that often self sows. These seedlings cruise through winter without much of a hitch and are up and blooming by mid spring. By the heat of july they quickly die setting profuse seed and disappearing. Light additional water besides rainfall will lengthen the show. Seedlings appear where they are happy- this can even be the cracks in the sidewalk. Seedlings are easy to spot and move or dispatch if unwanted. Nice in spring containers. Plant with early blooming Euphorbias for a real picture of yellow and blue contrast.
Cold hardy member of a mostly tender genus. This native of the Ukrainian steppes sends up a 30″ spike of rose red flowers in mid summer. Excellent to include in meadows, with ornamental grasses in nearly any soil that is not boggy. Full sun. Loved by pollinators. Spike rises from a low basal rosette of leaves. Lifespan 3-5 years.. Reseeds reliably. Very light summer water.
Huge, stately, bold biennial that we kind of consider the king of all biennials. The first season it forms a huge rosette of thin silver foliage. Showy in its own right. If we have a mild winter (above 15ºF) the whole plant soars to 6′ tall the second year and is a tower of red/purple borage flowers. Pollinators lose their little collecting minds and even hummers show up. Not entirely hardy but we think its such an incredible foliage plant in its first year that is is definitely worth the risk. Following bloom it sets seed- man does it set seed and seedling will appear all over the garden. They are easy to identify- rosettes of thin leaves with a sandpapery texture. You can move them or mass them for a cool effect. Rich to average, well drained soil with light summer water. Full sun and position out of high winds which can topple the plant in its blooming stage. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Native to the Canary Islands.
The blue stars of this borage relative are unmistakenly breathtaking in spring. This European relative of forget me nots (Myosotis) forms spreading clumps which give rise to clouds of sky blue flowers from March to June. To 6″ tall and 15″ wide in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Very pretty with early blooming Epimediums and the pale primrose yellow flowers of Primula vulgaris. Nice looking corrugated foliage. Part shade. Regular summer water. Resistant to slugs/snails.
A wonderful, incredibly long blooming perennial with clouds of true blue flowers waving above substantial spreading foliage. Easy to grow, long lived and very hardy plant to just 8″ tall in bloom but spreading to several feet wide. Rich, moisture retentive, well drained soil is where this plant for woodland margins thrives. Regular summer water. Avoid drought and compacted soil but this is a forgiving perennial. Blooms March-June. Plant bulbs among the foliage for a great spring floral display. Winter deciduous.
Easy to grow, long lived spreading perennial that blooms for an incredibly long three months in spring. Fresh white forget-me-not flowers appear in clouds on wiry stems. The solid corrugated green foliage is an ideal foil. Creeping to several feet across in rich to average well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Thrives in part shade and finds a perfect home under large shrubs, at the base of trees. Fresh and white. To 8″ tall.
Native perennial with a comfy sophisticated look. In the wild it occupies the land just up the flood plain from rivers in part shade and rich moist soil. Under dry conditions it simply goes summer dormant. Large felted leaves form a dome from the top of which pale blue outward facing flowers appear in late spring to summer. To 16″ tall and as wide in part shade and well drained soil. This plant improves under cultivation. Light summer moisture or none when established. Native in the central and southern Oregon coast range. Winter deciduous. Oregon native plant.
Scorpion weed is a beautiful native perennial found on rocky slopes/ hillsides/road cuts throughout California and western Oregon. Handsome corrugated trifoliate leaves are silver and have a pointed tip. In May-July curled flower inflorescences arise unfurling as they bloom to reveal rows of mauve/blue flowers. To 2′ tall in bloom it forms a handsome dome of evergreen foliage to 14″ across. The leaves are the most striking and conspicuous feature of this plant. Pollinators adore the flowers and its especially important for native bees. Full sun to very light shade, average, well drained soil. Light summer water. Excellent in the front of borders. Wonderful bold contrast with other fine leaved silver beauties- it even shines with lavender. As you hike throughout the mountainous parts west of the Cascade Crest the incredibly handsome leaves are sure to catch your eye. Easy to grow and perfectly climate adapted. Oregon native plant.
Perhaps there is no more blue flower than desert blue bells. An excellent and long blooming hardy annual that is at home in container as well as the ground. Often it will reseed prolifically from just one pot. To 6″ tall and as wide. Full sun and rich to average well drained soil. Light, consistent summer water keeps it going. Otherwise it will go away but not before setting seed for the following season. The vivid blue bell shaped flowers attract pollinators. Good western wildflower.
Sticky Phacelia is a hardy annual native to southern California chaparral into northern Baja. It bears intense blue flowers in late spring to early summer. It will often reseed in open disturbed sites if we have a mild winter. Incredibly attractive to bees and pollinators as all blue flowers seem to be. Full sun and well drained soil. Mixes well with summer perennials and if you give it a light shear and a drink when the first round of flowers are spent often more will erupt. To 11″ tall and spreading a bit. Fantastic wildflower effect. Native west coast annuals deserve a respected place in our gardens. Blue- scintillating blue. Works well in containers also. Light, consistent water to bloom.
Mist Maidens are an integral part of spring in western Oregon. These delicate looking beauties are actually iron tough. Clouds of white flowers sway above rubbery scalloped foliage beginning in early March and continuing to early June. They have the light fragrance of vanilla. Hot weather shuts them down and they quickly retreat to their bulbous roots to wait out summer in dormancy. Once established they require little interevention from humans. Let them romp around in the spring border with such similar perennials as Primula sieboldii and Viola corsica. Just don’t forget that they are there when they magically disappear. To 10″ tall and about as wide. In favored circumstances this Oregon native will happily self sow. Pretty and fresh as spring. Oregon native plant.