I just love the color of this historic Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB) Iris. It’s a true sky blue, the ruffled falls and standards are the same color but there is noticeable darker blue veining throughout and a yellow beard for accent. This Iris pumila is about 12 inches tall and is great for the rock garden or front of the border.
Parentage: ‘Great Lakes ‘ X ( ‘April Morn’ x unknown)
This plant has nearly everything going for it including multiple names. It is also called Lungwort or Bethlehem Sage. Pulmonaria has pretty pink bell shaped flowers appearing in April and May, then turn blue as they age. But even after the flowers are gone the leaves bring beauty to the garden. They are fuzzy and green and have white or silver spots. The leaves are semi-evergreen, persisting well after frost. If they start to look ragged just remove them and new ones will fill in. The plant is only about 10 inches tall but spreads to form a patch. This tough plant tolerates sun or shade and very dry or over wet conditions. It also is deer and rabbit resistant.
Sky Wings has a gorgeous sky blue flower with a yellow throat topping sword like dark green foliage that remains attractive throughout the growing season and also has beautiful rusty fall color. It is 2 ½ – 3 feet tall and is very hardy (down to zone 2) and vigorous. It prefers moist conditions, but will do fine in average garden soil.
This Siberian iris can be quite tall in fertile moist soil (up to 3 feet). It will be shorter, but still bloom like crazy on sandy soils. The electric blue blooms will appear inky in certain light and have reddish or velvet purple sheen at other times of the day. The signals are white with distinct black penciling. They are vigorous and floriferous, blooming at the same time as the tall bearded iris. The sword like dark green foliage remains attractive long after the blooms fade and even become a rusty accent for the winter garden.
This little sedum forms a dense mat of blue foliage that looks like mini Christmas trees. A ground cover for any sunny spot it looks great from early spring to late fall, but it June it develops 8” stems that are topped with bright yellow flowers. Really easy maintenance is its middle name. All you have to do is remove the flower stems after bloom. It will flourish in almost any soil and is great for containers, walls and paths as well.
Catmint, Blue Fescue and Sedum Reflexum Blue Spruce
Sea holly Eryhgium planum and Sedum sarmentosum graveyard moss
Sea Holly although it behaves like a prairie plant is not native. It has however been in North America since the 1800’s. I love it for its true blue color. This small thistle like plant has round umbels with bright steel blue flowers and blue-green bracts, on bright blue stems. The color, although quite bright blue also appears somewhat silvery; so this plant is wonderful in the moon garden and as a backdrop for white flowers. This is one of those plants that will live nearly anywhere, but it is best in full sun and sandy or poor soil and not too wet. If placed in shade or overly rich soil it tends to get bigger and flop over. In preferred conditions it stays about 2 feet tall, fuller and upright. This plant is very drought tolerant once established and is also ignored by deer. It is a super easy care free plant, just cut the taller stems from the basil leaves once a year. I usually do it very late in fall. The plant dries really well and holds its color when dried. If using it for wreaths and arrangements wait until the stems and flowers develop their brightest color.
Alliums are bulbs that can naturalize, but in most cases are not considered invasive. This one is from Siberia so will do well here in Wisconsin. They are about 18” tall sporting 1 1/2” globes, and will bloom in late May/early June. The sky blue flowers are a magnet for bees and butterflies and are not loved by deer. They like full sun and will tolerate drought. They will self-sow so remove the flower heads to keep numbers down. The onion-like leaves show up first, and then die back when they flower.
Regal Splendor is a majestic variegated sport of Krossa Regal and also has the signature feature of the upright vase shaped form. It was the hosta of the year in 2003 and is large at about 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall with 12 x 7 inch leaves. The frosty blue-green leaves are cordate and have an undulating, irregular, white to creamy yellow margin that can take a little sun without burning due to heavy texture. This stately plant is topped with lavender flowers on 4 foot scapes in late July.
This small hosta is a sport of Gold Edger. A small, cute fast growing hosta; Radiant Edger has round green leaves with a wide gold margin that will streak to the center a little bit. It forms a nice mound gradually spreading to a patch, never getting more than 10 to 12 inches with 22 inch scapes bearing lavender flowers. This hosta will produce more quickly given a little sun. Though not tall the clumps can reach 30” wide. Excellent form and color contrast make it a nice one to mass plant.
Hosta Krossa Regal, Francee with Praying hands (front) and (back), Regal Splendor, Pulmonaria, Honeybells
This plant was purchased by Gus Krossa in Japan in the 1950’s and was registered in 1980 by Alex Summers. It is a sterile anigrescens hybrid.
What sets this plant apart from the crowd is its regal vase shaped, upright form. It makes a great anchor in the back of the hosta garden, standing above the rest. It sometimes attains a huge size of 3 feet across by 3 feet tall with 5 to 7 foot flower scapes, sometimes even taller.
The flowers are orchid/lavender in color and appear in mid-July.
The plant is a good fast grower.
The frosty blue green leaves have an undulating edge and they arch gently. They are 11” x 6” have pointed tips and 12 veins. The texture is smooth and somewhat leathery with a powdery sheen.
‘Krossa Regal’ is a 1974 Eunice Fisher Award winner and an Alex J. Summers Distinguished Merit Hosta in 2001.