Springtime Blues That Transcend Falsehood And Achieve Greatness

When I speak of the springtime blues, I do not refer to a feeling of melancholy. Rather I mean the blue flowers that bloom in early to mid-spring. I am always cheered by these, as blue is one of my favorite flower colors.

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

Perhaps the Queen of the blue flowers in this season are the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). In my garden they are just beginning to flower. With moist, fertile soil and some shade they need no special care and seed themselves about like weeds.

Virginia Bluebells
More Virginia Bluebells

The tubular flowers start out as pink buds and are popular with bees.

Grape Hyacinths
Grape Hyacinths

Grape Hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) are a carefree bulb with a reputation for spreading rapidly. I’m a little disappointed that they seem to be more reserved in my own garden. Anyhow, I love the tight clusters of what some call urn-shaped flowers but to me look like tiny bowling balls.

Siberian Squill
Siberian Squill

As I’ve written before, Siberian Squill (Scilla sibirica) multiply with total abandon, making up to some extent for the Grape Hyacinths. They bloom weeks earlier but the flowers are persistent, especially during a cool spring.

Great Forget-Me-Not grow alongside Celandine Poppy.
Great Forget-Me-Not grow alongside Celandine Poppy.

Finally, there is Great Forget-Me-Not  (Brunnera macrophylla), which is the perennial formerly known in this blog as False Forget-Me-Not. This common name comes from the similarity between the flowers of this plant and the sky-blue flowers of the true Forget-Me-Not, Myosotis sylvatica.

My friend Jim recently pointed out to me that False Forget-Me-Not contains a confusing pair of negatives. When you think about it, “False Forget-Me-Not” sounds like “Remember me! But I’m going to be very busy, so don’t bother calling.”

Great Forget-Me-Not
Great Forget-Me-Not

The other most frequent common name is Siberian Bugloss, which sounds like a monster from Norse mythology. “Beware the Siberian Bugloss, my son! When it roams the land, even the bugs flee!” Or perhaps it fits more into a Lewis Carroll poem.

Actually, bugloss comes from the Greek word for “ox tongue”, a reference to the texture of the leaves. But in any case, I find Siberian Bugloss to be an unsatisfactory name. However, thanks to the internet I discovered that B. macrophylla also goes by the common name of Great Forget-Me-Not, so that’s what I’m sticking with from now on.

Great Forget-Me-Not, incidentally, is an easy perennial groundcover for shade – as long as it has sufficient moisture.

What is your favorite blue flower at this time of year?

52 Comments on “Springtime Blues That Transcend Falsehood And Achieve Greatness

  1. Blue isn’t my favorite color in the garden, but it is necessary if you have a lot of orange and red, like I do. And it is very cooling and calming. I just call it Brunnera.

  2. I loved having Virginia Bluebells at the house when I was a kid – they were my favorite for years! Not exactly good in the desert though!

  3. I love this transitional time in the spring garden: the initial yellows and whites give way to the gaudy colours of tulips that slip into the blue hues of later spring. The blues in spring are always wonderful!

  4. In my own garden great swathes of self sown forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica are really heart warming, I have Brunnera ‘Jack frost’ with silvery green leaves looking sedate in the shade and our native English Bluebells are just starting to appear in our woods. I like blue as a compliment at this time of year, its a great foil for some of the zingy spring colours.

    • I have some Spanish Bluebells, are they much like the English? M. sylvatica does not seem to self-sow much in my garden for some reason.

  5. Your post is a coincidence for I noticed all the blues and purples in my garden last weekend. I love the Virginia bluebells, the brunnera, centaurea Montana (perennial cornflower) and what I know as English bluebells but may be known by another name here in the US. They are all in bloom and they are all my favourites right now!

  6. The Brunnera is lovely at this time of year, but I was very pleased to see a few blue Anemone coronaria after waiting several years for them to flower. I really must look for some Virginia bluebells – they are so pretty!

  7. Better behaved than its species parent, I adore the vivid periwinkle blue flowers of Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’. And with its narrow leaf, bronze-tinged foliage, it makes an attactive ground cover for the shady garden.

  8. Myosotis sylvatica is my favorite blue in the garden right now. Grape hyacinths are mostly finished already. However, my blue poppy buds are swelling and soon they’ll be my favorite blues in the garden!

  9. Thanks for the interpretation of the flower’s name. I won’t forget not to call except when you are not unavailable.

  10. My favourite colour is blue too, I much prefer the name Great forget -me-not, lovely little plants! I love all of your spring blues.xxx

  11. The Brunnera is one of my favourite blues right now Jason. I don’t grow any of the plain green variety, both mine have variegated foliage and as you say great in shade. One lovely foliaged plant that the slugs don’t like either. Another reason I like them.
    You’ve got some nice blues Jason.

    • All of my Brunnera have the plain green leaves – I have an irrational prejudice against variegated foliage, which I can’t really explain.

  12. Love the forget-me-nots, false or otherwise, but my favorite blue right now is Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’. Later it will be Aconitum. Fun info re. the name game.

  13. Blues are wonderful in a garden, I think. Your Virginia Bluebells make me wish I could get them established here. Theoretically it could work.

  14. You seem to have enough blues that you could see bees with blue pollen sacs. What treasures.

  15. Interesting that your brunnera needs moisture. Mine has self-seeded in some very dry spots and the seedlings are doing well, although their flowers are white. Bluebells grow wild here. There are entire fields of them. So beautiful!

    • I grew some Brunnera in a dry spot and it didn’t come back the next spring. They do fine if there is moisture in my garden. I replaced the deceased Brunnera with Epimedium.

  16. Blue is pretty common in my garden as well. I don’t have all the blues you have blooming yet, since we are still far behind. No favorite for me, all the blues are welcome, maybe not squill though even though two popped up in my garden and I have no clue how they got there.

  17. It’s that time of year when the blues come out and yours are looking great! I have one bluebell seedling coming along and I hope it got the reseeding memo…. Assuming it’s big enough to bloom some day!

  18. LOL about the Forget-Me-Nots. I’ve never had any luck getting them going from seed. All these blue flowers are lovely. I hope I’ll have some Virginia Bluebells next year. They’re spreading and filling in where I scattered seed in the late fall of 2013, but they’re taking time to bloom. When they do bloom, it will be quite a show under the old Oak tree out by the woods! They’re stunning en masse. Your garden must be incredibly beautiful this time of year!

  19. I’m going with the Great Forget-Me-Not…I don’t have any but I have admired it in so many gardens for so long that I think it is time for me to plant some! I just love the form of this plant as well as the blues!!! Wishing you a great weekend in the garden Jason…I can hardly believe that the temperatures are going to be so high! Hopefully we get some rain! Take care! Nicole

    • I just saw ‘Jane Philips’ on your post! By the way, I like the idea of a ‘ponte’ day off to make the most of holidays. Observing a holiday on the nearest Monday seems a little crass.

  20. Finally I could download your blog, Jason.
    Nice brunnera and forget-me-not. Mine has no leaves yet. Glad your spring is so warm and sunny.

  21. What a beautiful display of spring! I love all the blues. Over the years I’ve had many of them as well, not sure where they’ve all gone. I especially love the Great Forget Me Not, especially now that it has a new name. I may need to plant them again,

  22. Best to call it Brunnera and then there is no confusion. I love the blues of spring flowers. Your Mertensia is so pretty, you don,’ t see it very often here. Another gorgeous blue flower in bloom right now is Omphalodes cappadocica. It looks like a vivid blue Forget Me Not. But you are not allowed to call it that.

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