Snapshot: Blue

Gentiana occidentalis, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt
Gentiana occidentalis

“Gentian-blue is a useful word, bringing to mind the piercingly powerful hue of the Gentianella. So also is turquoise-blue, for the stone has little variety of shade, and the colour is always of the same type. Forget-me-not blue is also a good word, meaning the colour of the native water Forget-me-not. Sky-blue is a little vague, though it has come by the ‘crystallising’ force of usage to stand for a blue rather pale than full, and not far from that of the Forget-me-not; indeed, I seem to remember written passages in which the colours of flower and firmament were used reciprocally, the one in describing the other. Cobalt is a word sometimes used, but more often misused, for only water-colour painters know just what it represents, and it is of little use, as it so rarely occurs among flowers.

And the strange thing is that in all these cases the likeness to the unlike, and much less bright, colour is given with an air of conferring the highest compliment on the flower in question. It is as if, wishing to praise some flower of a beautiful blue, one called it a brilliant slate-roof blue. This sounds absurd, because it is unfamiliar, but the unsuitability of the comparison is scarcely greater than in the examples just quoted.” Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899


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