Feeling Blue in the Garden

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Every so often, a particular color seems to stand out more than others in the gardens here at Marin Art & Garden Center, and right now, it’s blue. Don’t be downcast, though, because these are a couple of plants that are both eye-catching and low maintenance.

Looking for an easy-to-grow plant that blooms for months, attracts hummingbirds, and looks like a tiny Angel’s Trumpet? You’ll want to get to know Iochroma (Iochroma cyanea). You’ll find this plant growing near the Fountain Pond arbor, and our variety has striking violet-blue flowers that can bloom for most of the year in our climate. You can also find varieties with red to pink and even yellow flowers. They’re easy to propagate from cuttings, and do well in containers since they don’t get too big. These shrubs like good drainage and not too much sun, but as long as you keep them well fed and don’t let them get soggy, you can expect to keep getting blooms. Hummingbirds love these nectar-rich flowers and you will too.

The planted bed in front of the Main Office of Marin Art & Garden Center is appealing throughout the year: at the end of January, the Daphne blooms and fill the air with perfume, while later in the spring, the Hellebores are center stage, with their distinctive downward-facing flowers. But it is in the summer that this part of the grounds gets the most attention, when the electric blue berries of the Flax Lilies start to appear.

Our flax lilies (Dianella tasmanica)have plenty of lush foliage, and thrive in the partial shade cast by the oaks around the courtyard. You probably don’t even notice them among the other plants, even when they’re blooming. But once those berries form, you can’t miss them. These plants spread by rhizomes under the soil and can really take over if they have plenty of sun and water, but you can keep them under control by planting them in shadier spaces and limit their irrigation. Vivid berries, drought tolerant, and even deer resistant? That’s a plant to cheer you up.

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