“I got the blues, I got the blues, I got the blues”
Springtime seems full of blue – April showers, bluebells, forget-me-nots, grape hyacinth, scillas – perhaps a reflection of nature’s need to balance the predominance of yellow in spring flowers.
One of the bluest of blues is borage, Borago officinalis. Here in North Somerset, I photographed it on the edge of some village allotments. Borage is an un-fussy self-sowing annual. To avoid self-sowing, the flower heads need to be picked regularly. Borage does best in full sun in well-drained soil. Direct sow in April and May in full sun to partial shade. Borage develops a delicate taproot, so it’s best direct sown where it is to grow as it does not transplant well. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 21°C (70°F). Seeds should sprout in 5-15 days. Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep and thin to 60cm (24″) apart. Borage will get large and fill in spaces between plants. Pick fresh flowers for freezing or drying for bouquets. Cut the fresh leaves during the summer to add to salads or spreads. The leaves and flowers are edible with a flavour reminiscent of cucumbers. It makes an excellent all around companion plant and a wonderful choice for attracting bumblebees. Borage deters tomato hornworm and cabbage worms, and is particularly good planted near tomatoes and strawberries as it is very attractive to pollinators, and excellent for the soil and compost. Borage is also deer-proof. (see also http://www.westcoastseeds.com/product/Herb-Seeds/Borage/#sthash.Si90tcHg.dpbs )