May 8, 2011

Breaking Color Rules

Few people exploit red in spring gardens, but reds can be less hard when combined with other tints of red, maroon, coral and scarlet. When mixed together, they make a unique statement that really captures attention.
 These spring weekends are very busy, but unfortunately we had to spend much of this one at the Tuft's Vet Hospital with our oldest and sweetest Irish Terrier, Margaret, who has Pneumonia. Tonight she is home with us, on antibiotics and still not eating, and we, are just keeping our fingers crossed.
 In the garden, I was able to thin the turnips, spread manure on the lettuce, and I started to attempt grafting the tomatoes before I realized that the grafting clips I ordered were too small....now, fifty bucks later, more are arriving by this Wednesday, when I will attempt grafting again.

These mustard yellow dwarf German Bearded Iris make a brilliant addition to the alpine border.

True blue is rare enough, but gentian blue, as seen here in the tiny blue alpine flowers of Gentiana verna, a high-elevation alpine plant growing in one of our troughs, make a morning coffee on the deck, very special.

Brown tints in Iris are not uncommon, but in this cultivar called 'Spot of Tea' it becomes a color that still stands out in the alpine broder. Tan, chocolate and tea all together in one gorgeous iris. Maybe a little butter and scones, too.

Purples and violets somehow look prettier when combined with variegated foliage, like this Disporum. Dark violet can disappear in most garden situations. Dark purple tulips may look great in a glossy catalog closeup, but on a rainy May day, they can seem invisible in the border. Try framing them with brighter foliage.

The Australian Mint Shrub or Prostanthera rotundifolia needs to spend our color winters in the greenhouse, and under the protection of glass, it usually blooms in late February, but in some years, it blooms later. This year, our large shrub is just starting to come into bloom, outdoors, where the plant shares the border in front of the greenhouse with other unusual small tender shrubs. It has a unique violet haze about it while it is in bloom, the bees love it, and so do I.


  1. Your post is always inspiring and informative! My rhodohypoxis bulbs finally came and I got them planted in a trough... looking forward to seeing what develops... L

  2. Yum, I love that Prostanthera rotundifolia too!
    :) katybee

  3. Simply beautiful. Red is one of my favorite colors, but I always wimp out when using it in the garden. Thanks for the inspiration!


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