Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’
Plant of the month: May
This shrub from California can be found by the ramp into the Pavilion. Bred in 1971 by Ken Taylor it 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 and 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 were 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’.