Saturday, July 14, 2012

Well, Bust My Blue Buttons!

I attempt to grow only a few annual plants here in Kansas, with the sole exception an annual small bed of petunias that sits in the completely exposed branching point of my oval driveway.  I have no great love for petunias to confess, it just so happens that they are about the only plant that will provide continual bloom and color in spite of the blustery wind and lack of water at this site, a fact I discovered after years of trying daffodils and tulips and salvias and other species there.  This year, I did experiment with some "companion" annuals in my vegetable garden, marigolds and fennel and dill, in an effort to provide some help with insect control around the brassicas and beans.  But that's the normal extent of my annuals.

I dearly love, however, bright blue flowers, and so I have attempted several times over the last decade to develop a decent stand of blue cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus, or "Bachelor's Buttons" as they are known to the unwashed masses.  I have also failed several times.  I never have understood why;  cornflowers are supposed to like full sun and mildly alkaline soil.  Perhaps I  have just never watered them enough to get them established.

Imagine my delight then, that in this drought-stricken year, when daylilies have deserted me in my hour of need, this miserably hot year is the year that the cornflowers finally grew easily, bloomed spectacularly, and continue to please me as we speak.  How restful the sight of all that beautiful blue.

Any reading you might do about cornflower history will expose all the myths and symbolism represented by this flower.  It is the emblematic flower of a number of human social constructions, from the Swedish "Liberal People's Party" to the Freedom party of Austria, among many others.  It is the national flower of Germany.  To the French it is the symbol of the 1918 Armistice that ended the First World War.  If you wear one in a buttonhole, as prescribed for young men in love, you should just hope that the flower doesn't fade too quickly, a sign that your love is not returned.  I have no idea what it means if it is worn by a young lady and the flower fades.

I, of course, had no idea of the heavy weight laid on the flower by this symbolism.  I only adore the color.  I already know that my climate makes it impossible to grow the similarly-colored Meconopsis grandis, the Blue Poppy.  Do you think that my love for Centaurea is enough to ensure that it blooms for me again in the future, or am I doomed to be "cornflowerless" evermore?

 

8 comments:

  1. What a great burst of color! Maybe I should try these. I put some ice plants in one of my sunniest, windiest, driest spots -- they're supposed to thrive in that environment. Let's just say there would be plenty of room for some cornflowers.
    KZK

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    1. Yes, it is difficult to find the "right plant/right place", isn't it? I don't know if I'll be able to grow them this well again, but I'm basking in them right now. The photo color, BTW, is quite accurate

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  2. These are lovely. I have the perennial cornflower, Centaura montana, which has a similar colour but dies back disgracefully. Maybe I'll try the annuals instead.

    I enjoy your blog, by the way. I'd love to see more photos that show your garden design.

    Leslie

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    1. Thanks Leslie for the kind words about the blog. Funny, now that you suggest it, I guess I don't have a place that shows "my garden" although I've posted photos of most of it at one time or another. Try clicking the category of "Flint Hills Gardening" at the right and paging down....most of them are there, showing the front and the back gardens in a number of posts; for instance, one titled "Blessed Rain" has an overall of my back garden beds from my bedroom window (excluding the landscape bed along the back of the house).

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  3. ProfessorRoush - I am trying to ID a grass that I'm sure you're very familiar with. There are several in front of Mosier Hall. If you have time to take a look, it's in the last photo in the post on my dog-blog today:
    http://www.armyoffourdigest.blogspot.com/2012/07/serene-scenery-sunday_15.html
    I'm fairly sure it's a Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) but do you know what variety? I love the colors and size and would love to add some to my garden this Fall.
    Thanks very much -
    KZK
    bagsbyKZK@gmail.com

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Thank you for your interest in my blog. I like to meet friends via my blog, so I try to respond if you comment from a valid email address rather than the anonymous "noresponse@blogger.com". And thanks again for reading!

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