I admit to being a Francophile. I studied French from the seventh grade all the way through college where it was part of my major. I live in a French house and our housewarming party thirty-three years ago had a menu that consisted of French food and beverages. Niki and I have to France several times but two of them were special visits to Vacqueyras. That small town celebrates Le Jour de Bastille in a very special way. I’ve written about it in The Wine Buzz, an Ohio magazine that focuses on wine, wine areas, and wine stores. You can pick up a copy for free at almost any wine shop worth visiting.
I thought it would be fun to follow up my essay on Fourth of July plants with French Revolution plants. So, let’s start with rouge (red), blanc (white), and bleu (blue). Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’ has large ruby red flowers with white anthers and a red eye and blooms from June to September. It would look beautiful on a fence or a trellis.
Rosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’, known as Hedgehog Rose, is a rugosa rose, meaning that it has rough, distinctively wrinkled foliage. It produces semi-double, very fragrant, white flowers from spring to fall that are sometimes followed by orange hips. It grows six feet tall and wide. Unlike tea roses, it is tolerant of harsh conditions including salt spray, wind, and poor soil.
Caryopteris Grand Bleu™ (Blue Mist Shrub) is a French cultivar with a smaller, more manageable habit (only 3×3’) of a woody perennial valued for its presence when many other perennials are no longer in bloom. Its tiny but multiple, intense blue-purple flowers are quite showy and bloom from midsummer until first frost. Another of its assets is its drought tolerance. Do be aware that it is only hardy to zone 6 so site it in full sun, a protected location if possible, and give it excellent drainage.
The first time Niki and I visited Paris together, he was prepared to be disappointed – said nowhere could live up to all the hype. But it did and it is one of our favorite cities. Thus, I must mention Hydrangea Cityline™ Paris. Paris is part of a dwarf series of hydrangeas (only one to three high and three to four feet wide) that should not need pruning other than taking out dead canes. Hopefully, there will not be many because the flowers bloom on old wood. The long lasting red flowers fade to apple green. Although hardy to zone 5, I would plant it in a protected but sunny spot to keep the flower buds from freezing.
I will finish this post with Canna ‘Liberté’ that originated in the Antilles and was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century. It has bright orange flowers, dark purplish foliage, and grows four feet high. I often grow cannas just for the foliage and will cut off the flowers if they do not fit into my color scheme.
Did you celebrate Le Jour de Bastille?