June 14, 2009

Garden Inspiration: French Blue

The beautiful blue flowering shrub was everywhere I looked in Paris. It was in street plantings as well as public gardens. The flowers were fragrant and the foliage looked evergreen to me. Could the blue shrub be unique to France?

When I came home, I had to track down the information on this plant. The shrub is ceanothus or California Lilac. I'm sure the West Coast gardeners are familiar with this gorgeous shrub as it is a native in Oregon and California. Ceanothus is a new one for me as I've never seen it growing around here in North Carolina. I'm sure I would have noticed!

Ceanothus apparently thrives in poor soil and drought conditions. As with many native species, I think it's one of those plants that resents too much pampering from gardeners.

Ceanothus sounds like an easy plant to grow, but will it grow in a zone 7b garden with deer? It is supposed to be deer resistant and some varieties are rated for USDA zone 7, but most seem to be for zone 8 and hotter.

While ceanothus may never find a home here, I can imagine all the ways I'd like to use it to bring the hard-to-find blue flowers to my garden. The shrub may be a West Coast native, but I'll always think of it as divine French blue!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Paris, France; May 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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