Ask anyone but the keenest home gardener to identify a myosotis in their garden and they might struggle to pick out the plant in their flower beds. Ask them to spot the forget-me-not, however, and they’ll likely be able to point it out in a heartbeat. The cornflower blue petals are instantly recognisable, and their appearance signals the real start of summer.
The name does help: it’s a curious one. It’s a strange tale that delves back into German folk history. When God was naming all the different plants on the planet (so the story goes), he had run through the entire list of fauna – but overlooked one. According to legend, the unnamed one cried out ‘Forget me not, Lord!’ – and so the name stuck. Vergissmeinnicht in German became forget-me-not in English, and the first recorded usage in our country came in the late 1300s, by King Henry IV.
Since then the forget-me-not has stuck in the minds of many gardeners, and is renowned for its glorious colour and delicate petal structure, a gorgeous way to fill a scattered flower bed in any garden. Most species of myosotis are found in one of two places: Europe or New Zealand, and the climate in both places has helped shape the plant.
Forget-me-nots like high humidity and plenty of water – which is why they’re often found in the wild near burbling streams and still lakes, nestling under the shade of a tree canopy rather than in the full glare of the sun.
Home gardeners looking to incorporate their bright blue hues into their back yard will want to follow the same principles that allow the flower to thrive in the wild. Making sure they’re planted in moist soil and with some cover from the sun gives them the best chance to succeed.
Not that forget-me-nots are difficult to grow: because of their wildflower heritage, they manage to survive with little intervention from gardeners, and can usually be left to their own devices. Indeed, some struggle to keep them contained, so strong is their desire to self-seed across a green space. But if you want to have them flowering by the spring of 2019, you’ll need to start planting them from seed now.
First find the right place for them. Healthy, vibrant plants will stem from good preparation, and so sowing seeds in well-worked, well-drained soil is a must. Studding the soil with organic matter will help provide the nutrients the flowers need. Sow the seeds – in a slightly shaded area – then scatter a light layer of soil on top of them to give them a little more protection. Keeping them eight to 12 inches apart will ensure that the plants don’t crowd each other out as they grow. Within two weeks they should first germinate, provided you keep the soil relatively moist. From there they can be grown on.
Forget-me-nots can be planted both in borders and beds as well as in containers. Pick a spacious pot within which the flowers can grow and spread, and place it in the same semi-shaded area in which you’d plant the bed. Water it regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not boggy, and maintain it by nipping off dead flowers to bolster new blooms.
You’ll be left with beautiful blue blooms that add intrigue and drama to your garden – and best of all, require very little oversight in the months and years to come. It’ll be an unforgettable sight.