‘The Summertime Blues’ – Planting a Perennial Border with a Blue Palette

Wednesday, 19 February 2020  |  Alison



Many a plantsman has tried in vain over the decades to breed the perfect blue coloured flower and a few have come very close. So with the Pantone Colour of 2020 being announced as ‘Classic Blue’ this year, I thought I would choose plants that work well together and conjure up a blue border made with a selection of perennial plants with blue shades, either from the flowers, the berries or the foliage and stems.

Blue is traditionally thought of as cool and calming, dependable and solid. But colour is subjective. We all have a different shade of blue that may come to mind. For me it is the clear azure blue skies seen on sunny days at the British seaside and whilst ‘Classic Blue’ is this seasons Pantone colour, it is quite a dark hue and there are few plants with flowers this colour.  However, there are many bright and light blue colours in the flower world and a combination of blue shades including purples, lilacs and sky blue work really well as a combination with paler blues, especially when highlighted with white to keep the overall look calming or orange to bring an edge of flamboyance to the proceedings.


Starting at the back of the border to give height I am choosing Verbena bonariensis 'Buenos Aires' with its purple iridescent flower spires and also the paler blue shades of  ‘Magic Fountain’ Sky Blue’.  There has to be a perennial Salvia or two; In this case it is the mid blue petals and almost black stems of Salvia Black and Bloom and Salvia farinacea ‘Strata’ with silver-grey columnar spikes and silver-blue flowers.

Next, I have to have Geranium ‘Brookside’ as it can grow to a height of 50cm and although fabulous in its own right, it works a treat in garden borders as it gently grows through other plants.  It’s a beauty too with mid-blue petals and deep veining.

Echinops ‘Veitch Blue’ comes high on my list as it adds an architectural edge to the planting scheme with the strong silver stems, dissected silver-grey foliage and blue/mauve pompoms.  Of course lavender features in my Summertime Blues border and it is the compact Lavender Blue Spear with a tidy growing habit that is perfect for edging borders or pathways and will attract all the lovely pollinating insects and bees. 

As a contrast to the blues and to add a blast of zing and vibrancy that I love, I will intersperse Geum Koi with its bright orange effervescent petals and long flowering time.  If you prefer a softer and calming approach try Scabiosa incisa Kudo White with its pincushion flower heads that are just tinged with a soft pink. Planting Geum and Scabiosa at intervals in the garden or to edge your border will bring the whole look together and with the bonus that all the plants I have selected are perennials, you will have many a season’s colour to come.

So with the words of the Eddie Cochran song ‘Summertime Blues’ ringing in my ears I am off to clear a space and make my blue border a reality! Watch this space for photographs later this summer.

Happy gardening!



Brookside Nursery