by Sandy Metzger, Master Gardener
My beautiful blue Borage is beginning to bloom and buzzin' with bees; I'm thrilled and the bees are too. Though many folks do not appreciate Borage, I definitely do. For starters, it's blue, and I cannot get enough of the blues! Secondly, it's just about the earliest plant in the garden to begin blooming, just after Rosemary, and such a welcome sight after this mostly dry, freezing, browned-off winter. And though there's not much out there yet to be pollinated, on a warm and sunny afternoon the bees are diligently working over both the Borage and the Rosemary. We need the Borage, because we need the bees (have you read about the widespread die-off of our native bee population?)
For me, everything about Borage is positive, its blueness, its attractiveness to
bees, its size (1-3'), and its free-seeding quality. When it sneaks in and around my garden, filling bare spots between other flowers, I'm content. I never know where it's going to appear next. But when I want it to be where it's not, I take the whole stem with spent, gone-to-seed flowers and lay them down where I want them. Voilå, that's where they'll be! But I've heard folks say, "It just reseeds all over the place!" Well, yes, it can. Don't want it there? Pull it out—it's easy! I also appreciate its cultural requirements: sun or shade, practically no water, poor soil. How easy can that be?
Others have complained about the difficulty of handling it because of its prickly hairiness. Wear gloves! And finally, I love those tiny star-shaped flowers because they are edible. I hold the stem, and with a simple pinch in the middle of the blue corolla, out it pops, intact. I use them in salads or on appetizer cheese platters. Afraid to eat them? Then don't. Use them simply as a garnish on the side. That electric blue does wonders for a monochromatic side dish. And wash the blues thoroughly, because you never know where the dog's been. Enjoy your Borage!