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Blue vs purple flowers

Can anyone shed any light on this.  Yes there are blue flowers, such as the himalayan Blue poppy, but does anyone know why so many purple flowers are labelled as blue.  Bluebells for example, I'd call those purple, but i know they can't change their name, but so often I see blue flowers being talked about and the flower is purple. 

Even in Gardeners World magazine they talked about colours people like and disliked most and they had the blue and purple seperated out yet the blue examples I'd have called some of them purple.

What are your thoughts on this.  Sorry random I know. image I love purple flowers in my garden, but really dislike proper blue, so it kind of makes a difference to me when I'm choosing plants.  I've just planted Echinops Ritro, they are labelled as blue flowers but I've seen these plants and I'd call them purple, so I'm really hoping they end up purple or they'll be straight out the garden.

I'm sure one of you bright bunch will solve this mystery for me.  Thank you.



  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489

    I have only ever seen bluebells in shades of blue.

    A person's colour vision can affect their perception of colour.

    SW Scotland
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,859

    Sorry Peanuts, thats a mystery. Maybe it has something to do with the cone receptors in your retinas. image

    Bluebells are definitely blue!

    Last edited: 13 May 2017 21:23:43

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,859

    Snap Joyce!

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,305

    I have different colour vision in right and left eye. Old yellowing lens in one, nice clear plastic in the other. I can see how colours could look different to different people.image

    and blue has a red/purple end and a yellow/green. The pure blue in the middle is rare in plants

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,982

    I'm with you on blue colours, peanuts. Too cold for me. Red end of the blue spectrum for me only.  Bluebells are quite a purply blue I think - especially when they're not quite open. Hate that 'forget me not' colour in particular  image

    Can make it tricky when choosing something unless you see it in flower though! 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • TootsietimTootsietim Posts: 178

    I'm with you Peanut, bluebells are not blue, and the only blue flowers I have are light blue forget-me-nots. Take a walk in the woods at this time of year and compare the bluebells to the flowers of green alkanet, which are not only a lovely true blue but look more so compared to the purple bluebells around them.

    A very good book on colour and its' uses is 'Colour for adventurous gardeners' by the late Christopher Lloyd.

    to quote Christopher Lloyd, 'more then half the flowers described as blue in seed lists plant catalogues are some shade of mauve or purple'...'more than any other colour, blue needs contrast near to it, to prevent it looking dull'.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,645

    I like the blue of forget-me-nots but prefer the better behaved brunneras which have such lovely silvered foliage to set off the blue.   I also like the icy blues of scilla forms but that's beacuse it's perfect for spring light.

    Generally though, I prefer richer purples and lilacs especially later on in spring and summer and autumn when the light doesn't suit clear blues. 

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    I call the colour of forget-me-nots 'sky blue' and consider it a pastel shade.  A true blue to me would be Salvia patens 'Oxford Blue' (the Cambridge Blue variant would be another pastel blue in my eyes.)  Of course, the definition of blue in a flower is the Gentian, which is why so many other blue flower varieties have that in part of their name.  As has been said, true blue is a rare thing in flowers and a colour I love.  Can't get gentians to grow for the life of me though - typical! image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489

    Bob, have you tried growing gentians in pots?  It's the only way I have succeeded.

    SW Scotland
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    They won't even germinate for me, Joyce!  image  Tried stratification, leaving a seed tray for a year in the cold frame, propagater all sorts!  Perhaps I'll have to try actually buying some plants. image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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