Posts Tagged ‘Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore Blue’’

Biennial or Short-lived Perennial. Zone 4. Boraginaceae. Mediterranean region.  A.k.a. ALKANET, ITALIAN BUGLOSS.

Clusters of intensely cobalt-blue flowers rather like large forget-me-nots appear late spring into summer on 4 foot plants. Deep green, bristly, elongated foliage. It is related to Borage, and so it is no surprise that it is much beloved by bees.

A selection of the Italian wildflower,  ‘Dropmore Blue’ is an excellent Canadian cultivar introduced in 1905 by the famed Agricultural Research Station in Dropmore, Manitoba.

Anchusa is beautiful with yellow grandiflora foxgloves and other early summer flowers. I fell in love with this years ago during a late June visit to Butchart Gardens, where it was in full bloom in the rose garden – it was absolutely stunning with the rosy reds and pinks! You do see it occasionally in botanical and show gardens, but though once popular in home plantings, Anchusa is now quite rare; not many are familiar with this pretty plant.

The roots of the wild Anchusa are used to produce a red dye; apparently this trait carries over in the domesticated strain. There are also medicinal uses as a wound herb. I find that I need to be cautious when handling the bristly leaves, for, as with Borage, I have developed a sensitivity to the bristly hairs and break out in a mild but annoying rash from over-exposure. I would recommend wearing gloves when pruning or tidying up this one, just to be on the safe side.

Cut back after blooming for new flowers on fresh, lower growth in autumn. Anchusa is tap-rooted, so do not attempt to move plants once established, and transplant seedlings with care. It may sometimes self-sow modestly.

Anchusa generally acts as a biennial, though some plants may overwinter a third and fourth year, so keep an eye out for seedlings, or collect the large, black seeds to re-sow next season.

Plant in full sun. Thrives in any average soil with good drainage. Quite drought tolerant once established.

 

 

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