Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’

Plant of the month: May

This shrub can be found by the ramp into the Pavilion.

This shrub from California, bred in 1971 by Ken Taylor loves hot, dry, sunny conditions, as do all Ceanothus.

It has dense arching branches up to 6 to 8 feet tall with a spread of 12 feet. The small dark green deeply veined leaves can appear almost black from a distance. In early spring the burgundy coloured buds add a reddish glow to the plant before opening to produce some of the brightest cobalt blue flowers of any plant, with a honey like scent.

It can be used as an informal screen or as a specimen, it has even been wall trained in places, the wall giving valuable warmth in the winter. Ceanothus ‘Dark Blue’ is hardy down to minus 9⁰C.

In America Ceanothus flowers were used as a detergent by swishing them about in water to create a lather. And, the roots and leaves have been used to form a tea like beverage during the Revolutionary War.

In general most Ceanothus have blue or white flowers and are evergreen but there are several deciduous cultivars that have pink flowers and red stems, for example, Ceanothus x pallidus ‘Marie Simon’