By Michael Leach
When it comes to choosing house paint colors, a gardener must satisfy personal tastes and those of the plants. This seems a snap, considering one generally grows plants with blooms in colors that please one’s eye.
Not so fast.
My decision to paint the house is resulting in a brain freeze of indecision. Those 50 shades of gray represent only dab of what awaits in the Sherwin Williams color “fan”. The company takes all the strips of color chips found on a paint store wall and condenses them into a holder that suggests a lady’s fan of yesteryear. Open this at your own risk.
Some might say I’m stalling or being overly obsessive, which is saying a lot for a particularly picky sort. Whatever, I defy anyone — including the most laid back and colorblind — to decide how to redo a white house into a pale yellow one with white trim and some third accent color to highlight its few crumbs of Victorian gingerbread.
Will the colors enhance or spoil the garden? The house, after all, is a mere accessory that must flatter the flowers. This should be easy for me, given the three primary colors of red, blue and yellow are represented but generally only in their softest shades. Pink, burgundy, lavender, navy, butter, lemon and such colors blossom here.
Looking at paint with flower names seems a good starting point. Daffodil, Daisy, African Violet and Gladioli don’t work.
Move to another part of the color wheel.
Radish and Cherries Jubilee, not quite in my range. I almost turn Heart Throb red when looking at pinks called Hot, Eros and Desire. These might please the naked ladies (Lycoris) but what about the sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and my demure chaste tree (Vitex)?
In desperation I thumb through shades of orange. Aggressive, rather than lusty tendencies await. There are Stinging, Forceful, Raucous and Laughing oranges. I presume the laughter is derisive, not a friendly chuckle for a gardener perhaps a bit too concerned with a suitable backdrop for his flowery performers.
Blues. Can’t get beyond Undercool and Pulsating. If one combines Pulsating Blue and Forceful Orange, would this be construed as a pro-Florida Gator stance and so bring a horde of rabid Ohio State Buckeye fans posing as an “environmental cleanup” posse? Can’t risk this.
Green should be a soothing place to seek inspiration. Alas, no.
Witty and Humorous greens promise a jocund note —on someone else’s house. Certainly these are better than Nervy Hue or Impetuous. Does Kermit the Frog realize that being green is more difficult than ever?
Some of the “Fundamentally Neutral” shades bring clandestine operations to mind with Secret Garden and Shade Grown. These almost black greens might compliment the camo gear of a survivalist gardener but not me. Meanwhile, Sagey, Clary Sage, Dried Thyme, Rosemary and Basil make me hungry and think of kitchen duty, hardly the thing to enhance garden zen time.
At least these quieter hues have soothed me enough to consider stopping for lunch. That Basil is making me think of a sandwich with a sun-warmed tomato from the garden as a star attraction.