Monday, December 15, 2008 | | what's colorful
Since I can’t top last year’s December Bloom Day (Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted the 15th of every month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens) when the Autumn flowering cherry bloomed in the snow, I’d like to propose a bloom related challenge for the gray days of December instead.
Gail and I are starting to nail down ideas and themes for next year’s Display Garden design and I have suggested that in one of the beds at least, we try to work especially with colors that neither of us likes. Bloom color is just one of the design elements that we gardeners work with every year and I, for one, am growing tired of certain self imposed limitations and restrictions. I don’t want the color of a flower on an otherwise worthy plant to hold me back! And I want to like it.
We all have a particular relationship to color – some of us enjoy hues that are loud and hot while for others bright reds and oranges would bring on a migraine. Some like baby-cheek pink while others hate it with a passion and are in love with maroon. I have a dysfunctional relationship with purple and a resentment of yellow. And for me when they’re together, those complementary colors, rather than complimenting each other (like blue and orange do), hurl insults. My challenge is to be able to use purple and maybe just a touch of yellow without wincing. And I have started to look for hints and insights. For instance, thinking about this has caused me to question what it is about lavender plants (besides the scent, obviously) that makes me love them despite their typical bloom color. Is it the gray foliage? Could I learn to love purple if it occurred in a combination with gray plants? And would I like yellow if, like a close-up of a Hakonechloa leaf, it was placed with pinkish and greenish?
This is a challenge that Gail and I might be willing to take on because at least in theory we’re making these gardens for visitors’ enjoyment rather than our own. That gives us a certain freedom – in a way we don’t have to like what we do as long as it works really well for somebody else. I know it’s different at home. At home we have even tighter budgets and we will probably always gravitate towards plants that don’t argue with us. But even at home I get a little tired of the same-old, same-old and maybe I’ll promise to shake it up there this coming year too. At the very least it’s a fun mental exercise and I can see from looking back at pictures that there are occasions when my least favorite colors don’t make me want to look away. What colors do you avoid like the plague? Do you think there’s anything you could do – any combination of ugly and pretty colors that could induce love rather than eye pain? Are you up for the challenge?