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A Book of Blue Flowers

A Book of Blue Flowers
Robert Geneve
Portland, Ore.: Timber Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 250 p., $34.95

In A Book of Blue Flowers, the difficulty of defining what is blue — with a limitless range of shades — is expertly dealt with by the author. In an eminently readable and well-organized book, Professor Geneve presents both the subjective definition of blue, where perception is affected by the quality of light, as well as the diverse scientific factors that govern the presence of color in all flowers. Botanists use a number of terms, such as azurea or cerulea, to describe a species as blue, but the exact description of the subtle differences is still often in the eye of the beholder.

This book is a thorough and practical guide, containing plant descriptions arranged alphabetically by genus, with some 150 clear and attractive photographs of blue flowers from around the world. Any avid gardener looking for the delight of blue to provide a special focus in a garden will find suitable choices in this book. A glossary, bibliography and index also appear in this fine book.

No book about blue flowers would be complete without a description of the beautiful blue poppyMeconopsis, and Professor Geneve writes of the challenge of bringing this plant from West Asia. The blue poppy is a prime example of a plant that refuses to bloom unless it has a suitable environment. It prefers cool summers and mild winters, and this explains why there is a dearth of these plants in the Midwest! The challenge motivates gardeners even today.

— Bluma Kaplan, Volunteer, Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden.