The garden company I get some of my tube-stock/plugs from often gives me unnamed, root-bound or half-alive freebies that they can’t sell.
The last such ‘gift’ was a perennial Dianthus. Not knowing what name/colour the Dianthus was (but knowing that it would be white, pink, red or purple), I teased its roots, trimmed and fed it and placed it in front of a Pelargonium at the border’s edge.
The two are now in bloom together.
As a chance partnership, it almost works, and while it’s cutesy enough, it got me thinking of my time in the UK: the topic of flower colour schemes, and more specifically, complementary flower colours in the garden was taken very seriously.
In Australia, it hardly ever gets a mention: the blazing intensity of the summer sun bleaches pastels into a sort of dazzling cream while saturating intense colours even further. It is more akin to the brilliant glare of the Mediterranean Isles than the gentle light of an overcast UK summer which allows subtle pastel combinations to shine.
The subject often ended up being quite divisive: from gardeners who eschewed reds/oranges in favour of soft pastels, or relegated such colours to ‘tropical’ borders. Or to gardens composed entirely of white flowers and subtle silvery leaves that created uniform colour schemes that epitomised sophistication. Certainly, unless you were Christopher Lloyd himself, you had no hope of pairing pinks & oranges without drawing condemnation.
I found the topic most interesting: after all, flowers last only a matter of weeks…but nature herself certainly combines all matter of combinations that we deem ‘poor taste’.
Personally, there isn’t a colour I don’t like, but where does each gardener draw the line?
While I admit to choosing foliage colour schemes reasonably carefully, I only occasionally give any real thought to the flower colour schemes in my own garden (obviously that isn’t the case with client gardens): and usually then, it is with reference to their proximity to the house and the long lived shrubs/perennials – the further away from the house, or if I am using annuals/biennials, the more I aim for plants that I want to grow, or test, rather than plants whose colours complement or match others nearby.
This packet of ‘throw and sow’ seeds in my garden is all adjacent on the colour wheel, but that isn’t my doing – it’s the seed packet producer, and thank goodness they went to the trouble, as I would probably end up with a gaudy mix if left to my own devices:
Believe me, I am no expert, and I certainly admit when I get it wrong!
That combination of green, coral pink, brick red and fluro pink really only belongs in an 1980s discotheque…I doubt even the midday sun could bleach that colour scheme into something restful!!!!!
Even the shapes of the flowers clash!
So how much attention do you give to the colour schemes of flowers in your garden? Do you lean more to complementary, clashing or contrasting colours? Pastels or bold? Is there a colour that you would never let into your garden? Or do you just have flowers that you like, regardless of colour – simply destined to be cut and put into a vase?
As many of you now would be looking at spring catalogues and pondering the new season, it would be great to hear your thoughts!
Happy Gardening 🙂