Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Passion for Purple

I have a fondness for alliteration, so originally I was going to title this post simply "Purple Passion" until I realized someone might reach this blog by googling and expect something quite different. Just in case there is still some confusion, this post is about purple flowers.

Last week I did a post about the surprising number of yellow flowers in my garden this year, but as I said then, pink and purple make up the main color scheme here. When I started gardening in earnest, I thought purple would make a nice complement to the coneflowers (which, of course, aren't really purple, but pink) and other pink blooms. Looking through garden catalogs and nursery websites, I was amazed by the number of plants which do have purple blooms. I have just a few purple perennials, but their size makes up for their small numbers.

If you have a little time, let's take a stroll around my garden and yard to look for signs of purple. But we'll make it quick--it's been typical July weather in Illinois this week, which means hot and muggy, and it's threatening rain at the moment. Please ignore any weeds that might peek through; the weather has made me a bit lethargic this week.

I included a photo of this Russian Sage on my bloom day post, but here's a larger view of it. This is at the back of my main flowerbed, which is where it should be, as it's threatening to engulf the Knockout roses in front of it. The sage makes a nice backdrop for purple coneflowers; you can see a few peeking through here, which are actually at the front of the flowerbed.

I read somewhere that bees are attracted to purple; that's certainly the case in my garden. The Russian Sage has been attracting all kind of honeybees, or some type of bee that looks like a honeybee. The bumblebees, however, seem to prefer this Walker's Low Nepeta.

This plant is only a year old and has grown to gigantic proportions this year. I'm not sure what I did right. The May Night salvia below is not in full bloom right now, so I had to struggle to capture this lonely little purple bloom. Unfortunately, in the sun the true color doesn't show up--it's actually a much darker purple. I also have two East Friesland salvia; these three plants are by far the bumblebees' favorite haunts. I haven't deadheaded these plants all summer, which probably accounts for the lack of purple blooms right now.

Even in the shade garden, there a few touches of purple, even though I didn't plan this. The hostas have shot up blooms this past week, including these lavender beauties. Some people have said they don't care for hosta blooms, but I like them. To me, they're an added bonus, a surprise, during the long, hot days of July.

I know everyone plants heuchera for their foliage, but I like their blooms as well. I'm stretching the purple idea a bit with this photo, but the foliage is much darker than it appears here, and the stems of the blooms are definitely purple. Besides, it's called "Plum Pudding," so I think that qualifies as purple.

Purple is such a dramatic color that it is surprising how well it goes with other colors. Besides pink, it also looks good paired with yellow. The sun really washed out this photo below because the verbena next to the yellow coreopsis is actually a much darker hue. This is an annual, "Purple Homestead," but I wonder if it might survive as a perennial in a southern garden.
Purple also pairs well with blue and even red. However, I just realized that I don't have any red in my garden other than the Knockout roses, which prefer not to be photographed at the moment. That's too bad; that's a color combination that appeals to me . . ."I will wear purple with a red hat . . ." Hmm, there's an idea for another flowerbed.

Moving on to my containers, the pink and purple theme continues. I've shown you this accent plant before--the purple-leaved Persian Shield.

And another favorite, heliotrope...

Purple comes in so many shades--try matching an accessory to a new purple sweater--from the delicate pastels of lavender and lilac to bright violets to the richness of dark purple. You can really see this in the different petunias growing in pots around my garden. There is the double dark blue supertunia growing in the porch planter, which is actually a medium shade of purple.

For a true dark purple, though, check out this "Royal Velvet" supertunia. Again, the sun is making it appear lighter than it really is, but it contrasts beautifully against the frothy "Diamond Frost" euphorbia in this planter.

But here is one of my favorites--the supertunia "Priscilla," a variegated double petunia that shows the varying shades of purple.

The best purple accent in my garden, though, is one I've shown you before, but only as a baby. The "Victoria Blue" salvia has just started to bloom. This is truly my favorite annual, and I have it scattered in many places--behind Stella d'Oro daylilies, in front of the coneflowers in my roadside garden, and here tucked in behind the rocks fronted with the coreopsis and verbena pictured above. I even stuck a few leftover Victorias in planters this year. We'll check on these in a couple weeks again so I can show you just why I like them so much.

Oh dear, it's really starting to rain now, and we didn't even see the Roxanne geranium blooming. Well, that will have to wait for another day. But do you mind if we grab an umbrella? I'd really like to show you a few more things other than my purple plants before we leave.

I didn't get to show these pictures of a couple daylilies for Bloom Day because I was too focused on my coneflowers. These are both passalong plants from my aunt who also gave me my irises, so I don't know their names. Like the irises, these lilies did not bloom last year, and I really thought they were goners. But they have been a pleasant surprise this summer.

Now that I know how beautiful they are, I'd really like to move them to a more prominent place to show them off. I'm worried, though, a move might cause them to wait another two years to bloom. What's your advice?

Well, here's another surprise! Where did this caladium come from all of a sudden? Apparently the bulbs I planted in late May weren't all drowned out after all. This is the only one I see, though.

The sun is peeking out again, and here's a little butterfly hiding out in a sweet potato vine.

He won't unfurl his wings so we can identify him. Could it be a monarch? I saw my first Monarch butterfly arrive on my coneflowers yesterday, so maybe if you come back next week we'll be able to see a real butterfly show.
I know it's time for you to go. Thanks for spending some time with me viewing my purple "majesties." I hope you didn't get too wet!


  1. You got some nice shots, Rose, despite the sun. I have the same problem with the sun taking the color out of my pictures. I like how you have so much blooming right now. I think all my midsummer bloomers have gradually disappeared. I need to do a big replanting next year.

  2. Thanks, Joyce. I've noticed, too, that a photo looks beautiful when I view it full screen in my photo editing program, but doesn't look that good on my blog. That bumblebee sure looked clearer in my picture folder.

  3. I think purple passion would get you a TON of hits for sure. I say move the daylilies. I always do when they are in bloom so I can know exactly what goes where. Love your Russian sage.

  4. Your purples are beautiful! You and I both love our pinks and purples. What a nice surprise from your daylilies. Just think how many different colors you have now. They can be moved without any problems-so adaptable. Those caladiums we bought took long enough didn't they? I have 3 now that are coming up.

    I am back on line after being out almost a week. But with everything going on it will be Tuesday before I can do a post. And I have so much catching up to do with reading blogs!

  5. Lovely purple blooms Rose.....I love the flowers on the hosta....I always think they looks so delicate.I know people who remove the blooms because they grow the hosta purely for its leaves. Strange!!

    The salvia against the rock is a lovely photograph....and of course the little butterfly peeping through the foliage is lovely....

    I used to grow russian sage, it's such a beautiful plant. Because of our very wet soil in the winter, I have to treat it as an annual, so it got a little expensive. Lovely to see youts. Have a fun Sunday.........

  6. Tina,Thanks for the tip on the daylilies. I will move them!

    Beckie, I've missed you! I knew you were busy with family this past week, but thought maybe there was an internet problem, too. You have three caladiums?? I keep looking, but so far just the one.

    Cheryl, Too bad you can't keep the Russian sage. To me, it has that free-spirited look that would work perfectly in the back of your garden. I wouldn't dream of cutting off the hosta blooms!

  7. Hi Rose - I love the photos of your purple flowers. Isn't walker's low a wonderful plant? I bought one three years ago and have many of it's babies scattered around my yard. The bees love it so much.

    It seems we have similar taste in garden colours. My favourite combination is purple, pink, and yellow!

  8. beautiful photos!..I always try to take pictures very early in the mornig or close to sunset..The colors really pop more!

  9. As I'm sure you've already figured out, I'm a member of the purple fan club. My camera also sometimes has trouble accurately capturing purple flowers, making them look more blue & making blue flowers look more purple. Many of those purple flowers would be described as "blue" by growers & sellers. I can answer why your Nepeta got so large in one word: rain. My shade garden looks like a jungle this year because of all the rain we've had, & you've had even more. Move those Daylilies. I moved one very late in spring & it bloomed for the first time in about 5 years. They're so tough.

  10. Rose, I love purple blooms and enjoyed seeing them all together like this in one post. They must be stunning in your garden in concert. Alliterations are fun too.

    I enjoyed your GBBD post, but was sorry to hear you had the blues. Chocolate does help doesn't it? I have a stash I call my "writer's chocolate" so the kids won't raid it too often. Sadly I don't have any unpacking chocolate, but your blooms were a cheerful break.

  11. Hi Rose I enjoyed my tour! At least it was HOT and wet in your garden whereas here it is still unsaesonally chilly.
    Perfect purples!

  12. Amy, I seem to be drawn to the purples and pinks whenever I go plant shopping. My first Walker's Low died; I'm not sure why, but I now have two of them. I love them!

    Pat, I usually try to take pictures, then, too, but with the long days of sunlight right now I don't always get out the camera at the right time. Actually, I like cloudy, rainy days the best for photos.

    MMD, I laughed when I saw your bloom day post with all the purple; and I thought I had a lot! Glad you agree the daylilies can be moved--I'm putting that on my fall to-do list!

    Sarah, Glad I could cheer you up. Unpacking and getting a household organized again is not one of my favorite things to do. Hope you get a chance to relax and recover from jet lag, too.

    Suburbia, Wish I could send some of this heat your way! The worst is the humidty--I feel like a limp dishcloth after being outside for awhile.

  13. Rose, too, me too! I love purple as it was pointed out to me recently that there was a lot of purple and pink in my garden. It's a wonderful color combination. Purple even looks wonderful with orange!

    The Homestead Purple is a native southern plant....happy in cedar glades! It is semi-evergreen here. Aren't we lucky?

    I do think your photos are lovely...the Persian Shield, the hosta flowers and the potato vine look exactly as I see them in other gardens!

    Rose, I am meeting my son and his gf in Chicago and am negotiating time away from them to meet MMD and far are you from Chicago? Interested? I don't know for sure, yet!

  14. Gail, Until I did this post, I didn't think of purple looking good with almost every color--even orange--but it does, doesn't it?

    Beckie at Dragonfly and I have talked about taking a daytrip up to Chicago sometime in the next couple weeks; MMD mentioned getting together. If the dates would work out, it would be great if we could all get together! I'll leave a comment for you on your next blog post. Sounds like fun!

  15. Beautiful purple flowers. I was trying to single out a favourite, but then another one would take its place - I like them all!
    I agree with you. I like alliteration too, but would have chosen A passion for Purple.. just in case. LOL!
    Lovely photos. Enjoyed them all.

  16. Rose--I share your passion for purple (and for alliteration!) Heliotrope is my absolute favorite--for some reason they're hard to find where I live--I used to get them at a farm/nursery a few miles away, but they closed up shop this year--and then I hit every nursery and home improvement store around and couldn't find them. I finally found some at a grocery store in hanging baskets (luckily on sale), so I bought every basket they had! Anyway, I'll try them from seed this year--I'm not much good at propagating from seed, but we'll see. Other purples and then I'll stop: My black&blue salvia is actually deep purple and has been blooming constantly since May; the little angelonia is a beuatifully deep purple that sets off deep yellows really nicely, and I have a deep purple and a lavender butterfly bush. Perfect purple posting!

  17. I love your petunias. The doubles are beautiful. I always get one with similar color to Priscella but not double. What a carefree, blooming machine.

    Heliotrope. I forgot to get any this season. What a heavenly scent!!!

  18. This post is so Royal of you Rose. I also like purple. I have a few shots of purple through out the garden. It was nice seeing all the hues of purple that you have.

  19. When we were walking round the cliffs at the weekend I commented to husband about the number of purple - and shades of - flowers. All shapes and sizes. And quite a few yellow contrasting so well with them.

    Your garden must be really beautiful, rose.

  20. Dear Rose,
    So many beautiful purple flowers!
    Thank you for the garden tour. It is hot and humid here as well. I loved seeing the Red Admiral butterfly peeking out. I am a fan of the bees and the buttterflies! All my birds are hot! Hopefully we will get some rain too.
    Thanks again for lovely flowers.

  21. Wendy, it's the poet in us that likes alliteration, LOL. Glad you liked the flowers.

    Cosmo, I've had trouble in years past finding heliotrope, too; that's how I stumbled upon the Persian Shield as a substitute. It doesn't flower like heliotrope, but it's more of a survivor when it gets too dry. I just bought some purple angelonia!

    Marnie, The supertunias are such great performers; I have them in planters all over the place. Gosh, I'm going to have to go out and smell the heliotrope--I've never noticed its fragrance!

    Lisa, LOL! I was going to work in the Royal purple somehow, but forgot! I used to have purple irises, too, when I lived there. Sadly, I left those behind.

    Liz, Thanks, but remember I'm only showing you close-ups. Right now it's pretty much a jungle out there:)

    Sherry, I knew you could identify the butterfly! I'll have to make a note of its name. There's been one monarch--the one butterfly I can identify, along with a viceroy--flying about. One of these days I'll get my timing down and have the camera ready. Glad you enjoyed the garden.

  22. I looked at my garden and realized I do have lots of purple or pinkish flowers....I used to have more purple coneflowers but this year they came back a little better....the birds have been eating the seeds......I love your garden!

  23. Hi Rose, lovely purples. I agree with Tina, move the daylilies, maybe in the fall though, as they are going dormant. That is by the book, I move mine when in bloom so I know what's what but you aren't supposed to do that.

  24. Rose,

    I copied your email address and erased your comment but your email address wasn't copied completely, so it wouldn't mail! I have my email available at my comment section, I think! Could you email me so I can email you!


  25. Neva, Purple seems to be a pretty popular color! Thanks for stopping by.

    Frances, Thanks for the advice. I probably will wait till fall to move them. I have enough to do right now trying to keep up with all the weeds!

  26. Oh,that's what heliotrope is all about--the fragrance. Yummy vanilla scent. Of course its pretty too:)

    My purples are mostly early season bloomers. Except for a little Salvia, I hardly have any in my garden now. I need more annuals to keep purples and blues among my yellow and orange perennials.

  27. The name Purple seems to take in a lot of colors, doesn't it, Rose? The Purple Coneflowers are on the magenta end of the range, with perovskia sort of lavender blue and some of the pansies and petunias are what I think of as violet, but I can't think of a a better word than purple for Persian shield and heliotrope. Your array of purple plants is broad and beautiful.

    This does seem to be the most favorite flower color in the garden blogging community - and with each post we're egging each other on to buy and plant more!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  28. I'm always drawn to the purples and blues in a garden. The bees love it, too.


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