A woman at our weekly farmers’ market here in town brings a good selection of plants to sell each Saturday. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had some good discussions with her, bought some very fine plants from her, and have come to appreciate and trust her recommendations for my garden.
Two weeks ago, she insisted that every garden should have some flax. I knew nothing of flax beyond its use in linen and flax-seed bread, but I bought a small pot nonetheless. The plant was not yet flowering, but had some very tiny buds at the very top of its slender, thread-leafed foliage.
I came home and immediately Googled Blue Flax, or Linum perenne. I learned that it is native to Europe, especially the Alps, and that it has a close relative, Linum lewisii, that is native to western North America. It can grow 18 to 24 inches tall, and propagates itself by seed. It likes full sun, and is drought tolerant. Its bloom period can last more than a month. There are reports that the plant and its seeds are toxic if ingested, and the plant may cause skin irritation in some people as well. That made sense to me, as I get a mild skin rash when I wear linen.
I planted my new Linum perenne in a spot with afternoon sun exposure, and, the very next day, several of the buds opened! The flowers are a clear, pale blue, no more than an inch across. They last only a day, but new ones bloom the next day. During the heat wave we had last week (four consecutive days above 90), the blooms withered and shriveled by mid-afternoon, but the plant held up well. (I had no signs of skin irritation after handling and planting my Blue Flax, by the way, in case you were concerned!)
I think these are the sweetest little flowers ever! What experience has anyone else had with this plant? I am eager to hear and learn more about Blue Flax!
UPDATE: July 18, 2014–Sad to say that I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the Blue Fax this year. I looked for seedlings all spring, and was careful to not disturb the area in which it had been planted, but there’s been no sign of this lovely flower in my garden this year.