Green And Beyond

Bloggers share favorite colors in the garden

By Debra Knapke, Michael Leach and Teresa Woodard

Green for Debra:

What do my car, the accent walls in my house, the wallpaper in the dining area, and most of my clothes have in common? The tints, tones and shades of green. 

A harmonious vignette in green

Pre-mid-80s, my favorite color flipped between blue (main high school color) and red (OH-IO!).  But as gardening became the way for me to find that calm place in a busy life filled with young children and my job, I found myself drawn to green. I didn’t notice it at first, but I remember the day I looked at my closet and realized that red and blue had given way to green accessorized with brown and purple.

In April, these native plants begin to cover the ground in my small wooded area; wild ginger, goldenseal, and waterleaf.

Green is the color of life: renewal, growth, nature, and energy. For many, it symbolizes harmony, fertility and the environment. Traditionally, green is the color of money – in the US – and envy!

Wishing you harmony and growth.

Yellow for Michael:

Children’s drawings almost always show the sun as a yellow circle, usually with straight lines for rays shining in all directions. As a child this was my go-to symbol for sunshine, which somehow connoted happiness, too.

Maybe that’s because one of the earliest memories in the garden involves yellow crocus. Mother’s plump yellow crocus flowers were a symbol that the stifling house arrest of dreary, winter and the endless weeks of too-cold-to-play-outside were ending. The bees sought  the crocus blossoms, too. They clambered inside the flowers until it looked as if they wore bulging bloomers of orange pollen.

No wonder Mother, my sister and I looked so intently for those first signs of the needle-like green tips of crocus. Only Ponce de Leon’s passion for the mythical fountain of youth excelled ours. Next came frequent checks for signs of buds. At last the flowers, always gone too quickly. Eventually daffodils, iris, sunflowers and mums were added to Mother’s flower beds. Sunshine bloomed almost everyday from spring into autumn.

Yellow holds the top spot on my color popularity chart, but just a fraction below is lavender and then pink. My garden color scheme is the three primary colors, but in pastels. (Even yellow is best as butter, not taxi cab.) 

The solar connection to yellow is probably why I had the house painted “jonquil” a few years ago. No matter how gloomy the Midwest weather, there’s always sunshine and spring’s promise waiting outside.

Red for Teresa

Yes, red is my favorite color. I first embraced its boldness as a rebellious teenager trying to make a statement.  I regularly sported crimson shoes and chose ‘Laser Red’ for my first car. I accumulated a closet of all things red, and slowly learned too much of this intense color can overwhelm. Could ‘less is more’ apply to my favorite color?

Later as I began gardening, I discovered the power of red in small doses – a pot of red begonias on the front porch, red tulips planted along a walkway with grape hyacinth, and ‘Lucifer’ crocosmia tucked in a perennial border. For winter interest, I added red-twig dogwoods and red-fruited hollies.  For Mother’s Day, I was thoughtfully gifted with various red roses but never became a fan for their high maintenance and nasty thorns. Tucked away in my cutting garden, I finally realized I could defiantly break the ‘less is more’ rule and plant with abandon red zinnias, gladiolas and cockscomb.

More Colors

What are your favorite colors in the garden? For more inspiration, check out these books on garden color.

The Power of Annuals

Each year, 15,000 annuals are planted at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Here, Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ and Coleus ‘Keystone Kopper’ dress up the Reptile House.

Winning Plants for Summer Color

 By Teresa Woodard

In the gardening world, annual plants are often the step-child to the perennial darlings.  But Scott Beuerlein, horticulturalist at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, opened my eyes to the virtues of annuals at the recent Plant Trials Day hosted at the beautifully landscaped zoo.

He says the colorful flowers can’t be beat for their “50 MPH wow”. They may only last for a season, but their color is nonstop for several months.  Plus, they pack a lot of punch in container gardens,  add traffic-stopping curb appeal to the landscape, build community pride in public spaces, bring joy to senior centers and hospitals, offer nectar and pollen to several pollinators, and even minimize weeds when densely planted.

Here are ten favorites at the zoo.

Pennisetum 'Rubrum' (purple fountain grass) and Flame Thrower Coleus 'Spiced Curry'

Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ (purple fountain grass) and Flame Thrower Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’

Coleus 'Premium Sun Crimson Gold with Sedum 'Lemon Coral' and gazania.

Coleus ‘Premium Sun Crimson Gold’ with Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’ and gazania.

Salvia 'Golden Delicious' and Zinnia 'Sahara Double Fire'

Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’ and Zinnia ‘Sahara Double Fire’

Coleus 'Lime Time' and Lantana 'Luscious Citrus Blend'

Coleus ‘Lime Time’ and Lantana ‘Luscious Citrus Blend’

Coleus 'Colorblaze Kingswood Torch', Dwarf Morning Glory 'Blue My Mind' and Lantana 'Little Lucky Pot of Gold'

Coleus ‘Colorblaze Kingswood Torch’, Dwarf Morning Glory ‘Blue My Mind’ and Lantana ‘Little Lucky Pot of Gold’

Colocasia, Lantana 'Luscious Marmalade' and Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Light Green' (sweet potato vine)

Colocasia, Lantana ‘Luscious Marmalade’ and Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Light Green’ (sweet potato vine)

 

Impatiens 'Bounce Cherry' and Verbena 'Lanai Candy Cane'

Impatiens ‘Bounce Cherry’ and Verbena ‘Lanai Candy Cane’

Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'

Dahlia ‘Mystic Illusion’

Coleus 'Dipt in Wine' and Euphorbia 'Glitz' with red begonias

Coleus ‘Dipt in Wine’ and Euphorbia ‘Glitz’ with red begonias

Pennisetum 'Vertigo' and Coleus 'Alabama' and dahlias.

Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ and Coleus ‘Alabama’ with dahlias.

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