Who knew? Blue

With the predominance of narcissi and tulips in the garden at this time of year and the multitude of colours they bring, it's always a surprise for us when the blues appear.  Ompholodes ‘Cherry Ingram’(pictured), Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’, Bluebells, and Scilla - they all add a cool, calmness to an area.

Blue is rare in nature, true blue flowers are not merely uncommon - they’re nonexistent.  Plants lack true blue pigment.  When we perceive a flower as blue, it's due to a combination of other pigments and plant minerals interacting with light.  A familiar example is cyanidin-3-glucoside, often sold as an antioxidant supplement.  Many flowers labelled as ‘blue’ actually lean towards shades of purple, lavender, or a cool-toned red. 

Psychologists refer to the calming influence of the colour and a perceived air of confidence and authority - it’s no coincidence that police uniforms are often blue.  Up until the 1850’s blue as a dye or pigment was incredibly rare.  During the Middle Ages, the colour was so expensive to produce from Lapis Lazuli - a semi-precious stone from Afghanistan -  that its use was a sign of wealth and power.  A cheaper alternative produced from the leaves of woad (Isatis tinctoria) was considered a poor relation, wasn’t colourfast, and was considered a colour for the masses. 

We always knew that the appearance of Ompholodes in our border made us smile but understanding the psychology of colour and the history behind it further adds to our enjoyment.