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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A not-so-blue blue

I'm not sure when or how mild depression got called "the blues." After all, blue skies are a good thing, right? And blue flowers are among the most prized, perhaps because of their rarity in nature, at least as far as true blues are concerned: spiderwort, delphinium, Himalayan poppies, maybe, but most other blues are more purple, at least around here.

But who cares? Agastache foeniculum, AKA anise hyssop or blue giant hyssop, has been one of the success stories of our new lawn strip garden. (Given my haphazard record-keeping, I cannot remember if our plant is the straight species or the short cultivar "Honey Bee Blue," but I suspect the latter.) In any sunny area that is not waterlogged, this plant is foolproof. I love the red western agastache species and hybrids, but our damp winters often do them in. Our eastern native is made of sterner stuff. 

This member of the mint family is not an immediate attention-grabber. It has nice serrated leaves, nice but not spectacular color, and a pleasant scent, but not one that wafts; the leaves need to be bruised to release the anise scent that gives the plant one of its common names. However, it starts blooming with the midsummer daisies and is still going now after most of the asters have finished. It grows in sand, clay, and actual soil, and asks for no water, though it has no problem with rain or snow. It plays well with others, forming steadily-growing clumps that, unlike those of its distant cousin wild ageratum, do not become invasive.

And it is a pollinator magnet. On an ordinary afternoon last week, our single plant was loaded with bumblebees (whom the unfortunate light conditions would not allow me to photograph), and a female monarch, who seemed determined to visit every blossom on the plant while tanking up for her long flight to Mexico.

Here's hoping that the goldfinches visit to get the seeds.  I'm not ready for the show to be over.

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