Six on Saturday – 26/06/2021-Tough and Colourful

When the chicory starts to bloom, you know summer has arrived! Cichorium intybus is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa but also grows in much of North America (although apparently it doesn’t like the heat and humidity of the deep south). It’s generally considered a weed over here although many appreciate the tall spires of gorgeous clear blue-violet or sky blue flowers that appear alongside country roads as temperatures rise. I collected and scattered seed in my garden a number of years ago so I could enjoy the flowers every day. Chicory leaves form a rosette closely resembling dandelions so you need to pay attention if you do grow them. The richer the soil the taller the flower spire – in my garden they get a bit taller than me – that’s with no amendments to my gravelly, heavy clay soil with no watering. If you’d like to read more about this summer beauty, here’s a great site.

Individual flowers only last a day (part of a day, actually; they generally close when the sun gets too hot), but each stalk can be multi-branching and has many buds so the flowering period is quite long.

Every Saturday, The Propagator encourages gardeners around the world to share six things that are happening in their garden. My Six this week could likely have been all blue flowers, like this Nigella ‘Midnight.’ I started with a pack of seeds in spring, 2019, and have scattered them here and there the past two falls. They seem to like to germinate in the fall, setting down roots I guess, and the tiny seedlings are almost evergreen even in our cold winters. Although fairly drought tolerant they definitely grow taller and bushier with a touch of moisture in the soil. I likely should have thinned out this patch last fall, but it was so pretty!

The final blue flower for today is this Delphiunium. I’m not sure what species it is, seeds came originally in a free packet of wildflowers but they self seed in one section of the garden and come back every year in a range of shades from almost white to a darker blue. This one this year, however, is by far my favourite.

On to something different! Some flowers, after they open, stay open until they’re done – pollination complete, petals fall or wither away. Daffodils. Alliums. Daisies. Cleome. Digitalis. Some open with the sun, then close tight when shadows creep over them. Tulips. Single peonies. Portulaca. Dandelions! And, it turns out, so do poppies, both oriental and California.

Another pair of colours, but on the same species. This is some kind of cultivated mallow. I think. I purchased seeds a number of years ago and now they show up here and there, as well as in the same spot. So perennial, I think, but maybe not…

Finally, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ I got this plant from a friend who was clearing out her garden many years ago – it was a favourite of hers, and she was moving to an apartment… I planted it in an out of the way spot and, like all the flowers shown here today (aside from the Ranunculus…) it receives no special attention. Drought or flood, it keeps coming back, the clump a bit larger every year. I love it.

I’m on vacation next week, and hope to spend some time at the beach, dining with friends (yes, we can do that now!!) and, of course, toodling around the garden. Stay safe everyone!


  1. We have a native called skeleton flower (Lygodesmia texana) that looks remarkably like the chicory, which we don’t have here on the coast (unless someone has managed it in a garden). Skeleton plant is one of my favorites, although I have to travel a bit to find it. I have seen chicory in Kansas and Oklahoma, and coffee/chicory blends are a staple in Louisiana.

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  2. I love blue flowers, the chicory photo is fab. I have never had any success with Nigella growing from seed, maybe I need to scatter some in late summer. Californian poppies on the other hand have no problem in germinating! Another flower that closes up as the sun moves away are osteospermum, the African daisy.

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  3. Do you know about Cajuns and others in Louisiana adding Chicory roots to coffee? I don’t know either plant, but it would be interesting to find a connection. Love the first image and all your seeding successes.

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    1. Thanks Eliza! So happy not to be in the midst of the western heatwave. My parents, on Vancouver Island, are in it…with no air conditioning, thank goodness they have a basement to stay cool in. Gardens must surely be wilting…😟

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