Is Pink Out of Fashion?


Pink_amaryllisThis article in the Sunday Times about color fashions in gardens makes me feel hopelessly out of step.  Like fashion magazines that blithely inform you that short hair is in one year and long hair the next, I just don’t know what to do with the news that a particular color has gone out of style. I can’t manage to keep all the weeds pulled in my garden; I’m certainly not going to go yank out all the pink or purple just because it’s fallen out of favor with designers. Some years, the Shasta daisies do particularly well and the feverfew explodes, and I have a white garden.  Other years, the love-in-a-mist self-sow fiendishly among the hardy geranium, and it’s blue and purple whether I like it or not.

But there is one place where colors can go in and out of fashion: show gardens.  So here’s what designer Rachel de Thame has to say about this year’s color trends:

"It remains to be seen whether I am the only designer at this year’s show to
pick up on pink. It’s certainly due for a come-back. In recent years, garden
after garden has featured blue, purple and inky, near-black flowers, often
contrasted with tangerine or acid green. Subtle all-white plots have become
popular. Occasionally, near-pinks have crept in: purples have been combined
with deep pinky reds, and there have been frequent inclusions in mixed
pastel-themed planting schemes, but a garden in which it dominates has been
a rarity."

I’m not a lover of pink myself, but this time of year, I think about these pink Amaryllis belladonnas (and their matching bubble gum scent) with longing.  You’ll never catch me wearing a pink shirt or buying a pink pillowcase, but any flower that needs no water or fertilizer and looks like this in August is welcome in my garden.  I gotta admit, though–if it came in tangerine, I’d swap for it.

Is there a foliage or flower color you REALLY hate in the garden?  Speak your piece.


  1. Pinks are nice. Soft or hot pink with a nice deep green foliage. No
    yellow nearby.

    The only color I dislike in the garden is a coral/salmon. Impatients seem to come in a particularly bad shade of this color and are always mixed up with reds and purple pinks, jarring the senses.

    Lots of lush green is best.

  2. I don’t know if there is any color I really HATE in the garden, but the dull gold of daylilies I got in a collection from White Flower Farm led me to realize this is a color I do not like. No rudbekias in my garden! And, dare I say it, I love pink. Always. I have lots and lots of pink roses.

  3. Pink is an interesting question. I have a lot of trouble using pink in the garden. Magenta, no problem. I love magenta because it can stand up to a tomato red or screaming orange. But pink–there’s always that question, as Gloria points out, of whether you can use yellow with it or not.

    Inspired by my incredible honeysuckle, I’ve tried in recent years to go for a pink-apricot-yellow mix in my backyard. It’s both insipid and discordant. I’m giving up and going for yellow, red-brown, and blue.

  4. I’ll never have any kind of day lily in my garden. And I detest overbred Irises, especially the floppy, gaudy, tacky bearded ones that scream “Look at me, I’m so overbred!” Yuck. Species only, or natural hybrids, please!

    The only color I have a problem with is McDonald’s red. Which must never, NEVER be put next to McDonald’s yellow.

    Pink Clarkias in the earliest summer cannot be beat, and I also have that pink Amaryllis belladonna, and pink-flowering western native Ribes sanguineum. I like the pink-flowering Hardenbergia violacea even better than the purple, and I have high hopes for pink-flowering Phaseolus coccineus this year.

  5. Chuck B., I LOVE McDonald’s red with McDonald’s yellow–particularly at tulip time, when I’ve just barely survived a colorless winter!

  6. Pink is just one of those wishy washy fru fru colors for me that just doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to big bold architectural plants which I like to plant with.
    If I have a huge stand of red yellow and orange striped canna leaves, next to a giant black foliage Alocacia I don’t want to see a pink anywhere nearby.
    It’s too feminine of a color and tends to wash out in my summmer time hot Californian garden.

    I’ll take a hot magenta or a vivid fuchia any day, but you can keep your wimpy arse delicate pinks for great gramma .

  7. I agree — after a colorless winter, pink of any shade is welcome in my gardens. 🙂 There isn’t a color I wouldn’t welcome; in fact, like a quilt, for me, the “scrappier” the better! A very thoughtful post!

  8. Pink? Yes. Orange? only on pumpkins. But right now I would settle for orange just to see something other than white in my February landscape.

  9. Yup, anything would be welcome right now ( yes, another 10 inches of white stuff arrived, just as the grass realized it was free again!). I have even lost some of the green from my evergreens after a particular bad deer attack:-(. Right now, I get memsmorized by Cardinals, especially when they throw a party at the bird feeders, one time this weekend we counted 7 couples! Sigh, bring on the spring!

  10. I’m picky about pinks. Some pinks, sometimes, on some things. I would not, could not plant a pink Amarylis or tulip – something about the texture with the color. Roses – maybe. And the brilliance of cherry sage is always welcome. But I prefer colors that work for me regardless of what it’s on – rich blue and white are always welcome.

  11. Last year – or maybe it was the year before – there was a fabulous pink and brown display garden at Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Delicate petal pink, warm pinks and deep pinks (but no magenta) blended with dark & milk chocolate browns and a latte brown or two. That same year, another garden had a bright pink gumball path. Not practical but oh, so arty and fun. That same garden had cherry pink blown glass pieces as part of the water feature.

    This year orange seemed to reign in the gardens. Not that it matters to me what so-called fashion gurus dictate as the “in” color. Between the two, I prefer pink over orange. Orange just ain’t my thang.

    However, there is one shade of pink I avoid, a shade a good friend and fellow hort-head calls NHP (nursing home pink). You know the shade I mean.

  12. I’m not a fan of whites. White is a non-color, it’s very uninspired. It’s too bright and showy. With all the great colors out there, why bother with white? I think the same of people who paint every room in their home white. White’s a cop out.

  13. I have always had some pink flowers in the garden,dont care too much what the ‘it’ designers are prescribing.It,s my garden and has to work for me.As for white in the garden,i really like whiteflowering Liriope planted in front of BigDaddy Hosta that also flowers white in the shadegarden.Nice to see in the evening when i take my last walk through the garden.I guess it all comes down to what works for you.

  14. I’m sorry – I can’t get involved for or against any colour. I don’t understand colours being out of style. I don’t understand colour wheels. I like colour, colours, lots of colours. The more the better. Lots of flowers in lots of colours (preferably randomly distributed) – that’s what a garden should be.

  15. The only color banned from my garden and my designs is orange. The ban started when easily influenced me read articles by and talked with snobby, upper-crusty gardeners who would rather be caught naked in public than allow orange on their properties.

    I once interviewed a lovely, elderly English lady in St. Paul who had created a most charming, vast, English-style cottage garden on her property, and who had the first Kwanza daylily (or whatever the hell it’s called) I’d seen. Fabulous, variegated foliage.

    It was late spring, I could tell it wasn’t an iris, so I asked her what it was, and she replied (hear it spoken by Helen Mirren, or Dame Judy), “Why, it’s a DAYLILY, of all things, though I never allow it to flower. Blooms in orange, poor thing. I grow it for the leaves.”

    More than enough for me.

    Though there is something behind the orange prejudice. Cars, clothes, appliances, paint … orange usually ranks low on the list when you ask people their favorite colors. More than a touch of it in a garden, for some reason the garden isn’t attractive. Orange overused becomes garish, doesn’t emit much grace.

    This probably was also the genesis of my general distaste for daylilies (except for Kwanza, shorn). Chuck B. above, good on ya.

    Of course, if you love orange, use plenty of it, and to hell with what anyone says. My ban on orange is mostly pure, ill-advised snobbery.

    I love pink. Pinks, pure whites, and rich blues are my favorites. It’s hilarious that someone in the industry creates a color trend or notes one in an article while believing that any more than one percent of the gardening public will ever hear about it, or give a toss if they do.

    Magenta, by the way, was also on the Victorian-era, English s*%# list, as it was the color of many common weeds that littered the English countryside. The upper class wouldn’t touch it. Thus, magenta was used by the servant class in their small gardens, people who could not afford “real” perennial and annual flowers.

    Magenta was also the color of the plant-based lipsticks worn by London whores of the era, rather sealing the deal.

    But I like magenta, and use it, though somewhat sparingly.

  16. I like pink best no wait salmon no red no indigo no wait blue but chartreuse is just so wonderful no white but what about black…I believe that there is no such thing as “clashing colors” when it comes to the garden.

    I confess I especially like purple with tomato red-orange and shocking pink, but I’m also fond of yellow and blue, chartreuse and burgundy-black, white and pink…

    I give up. I like them all.

  17. Not too certain about the comment that “there is no such thing as clashing colors in the garden.”

    Back when salmon first made its appearance I managed to mix it with an odd pinkish red, and if you looked at the scene too long you’d have a hard time keeping a cold shrimp dinner down.

  18. Gardens are subjective … why ‘ins & outs’? A garden should ‘feed the soul’, otherwise, why do we garden? Certainly not for others. The older I get and the longer I garden, green is the color that haunts me … color, texture, and form drive me, interspersed with complimentary friends that speak gently(often pink).

  19. Gardens are subjective … why ‘ins & outs’? A garden should ‘feed the soul’, otherwise, why do we garden? Certainly not for others. The older I get and the longer I garden, green is the color that haunts me … color, texture, and form drive me, interspersed with complimentary friends that speak gently(often pink).

  20. I like orange, but not orange lilies. Orange poppies, orange-flowering succulents, orange trees, orange roses–all turn me on.

    And I like white too. If I had more space, I’d have a white-themed garden room. It would be very meditative and peaceful.

  21. Any color can be good, if it’s next to something that makes it look good. Pink? I paired delicate shell-pink tulips with black tulips one year and the combination was gorgeous (since “black” in tulips is just really really dark maroon anyway, it’s still in the same color group). Red? I saw a planting with bright red and candy-pink geraniums that reminded me of the bins at a candy store, and made me smile. Orange? I’ve got orange, yellow, and pink spring bulbs together that creates a sunny spring garden.

    I know there’s a whole art to combining color for certain effects, but I’m not such a color snob that I’ll turn up my nose at anyone’s garden because they didn’t have the “right” combination.

    I do, though, have my own tastes and they differ from other people’s tastes. I’m not fond of red and yellow together, for instance. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just cliche, seen too often on bulb catalogs, or maybe it looks like a McGarden. I especially don’t like red, yellow, and white together. Just doesn’t look right. I’m not crazy about bronze or yellow foliage. To me, yellow leaves make a plant look ill. And while I like dark red foliage, too much of it is depressing. It needs to be backed by bright green.

    But those are my tastes, and if my neighbor wants to put the “wrong” colors of petunias in a giant tractor tire painted white, well, have at it. If we’re not having fun, why do this?

  22. Only those without style follow fashion. I like my pinks cool, but the brighter the better. Orange is banned from my garden except for autumn foliage. Orangy pink, orangy yellow & orangy red are also banned. That’s not to say that these color wouldn’t look good in proper combinations, just not in my garden. And no brown flowers – ever, anywhere.

  23. I think the color fashion in gardens is just a reflection of the obsession with home decor and the fashion trends the magazines love to trot out every season. It is kind of silly. People worrying too much about being in fashion menas no one tries anything new; I mean, if I see one more picture of a newly remodeled high end kitchen with white subway tile on the walls, stainless steel appliances, and black granite countertops I am gonna scream! Plus, isn’t it kinda pricy to redo evety time a trend changes? (the kitchen in my fixer-upper has orange walls with green trim and natural wood built in shelves…and lots of vintage copper pretties.

    As for flowers, I love pink, all shades of it. I actually tried to design my plot at the Backbay Fens to be all shades of pink and green at one point…

    My spring bulbs will hopefully be coming up in shades of blue, purple, lavender, orange, yellow and many shades of pink…I also planted many new bearded iris last year, mostly blues and pinks. I hope they will flower.

    The one color I do not like in the garden: bright orangey tomatoey red. Especially when paired with bright roadsign yellow! I dunno why. I do like bluish, darker reds, like burgundy or maroon, however.

  24. Yellow. Lazy! I expect something I plant to work a little harder than giving me this low-effort green-with-the-blue-left-out!

    However, I make exceptions. Sunflowers, rudbeckia… who can resist sunflowers?

    And daffodils. The whites don’t show up in snow, so nothing less than brilliant yellow will do.

    But that’s it! No more! 🙂

  25. True confession: Alas, I love shell pink and orange! I saw African Queen Regal Lilies in bloom and have been obsessing ever since! How can I work these screaming orange lilies into my pastel pink (fairy, Sally holmes, Abraham Darby)roses, shastas and lady’s mantle? I guess sometimes you buy on impulse and find a spot for them once they arrive.

  26. I can’t think of a single colour I’d ban from my garden. I avoid orange and tomato red, but they were here before me, and I’m not going to any trouble evicting healthy, happy plants that aren’t interfering too much with my colour schemes.
    I don’t like blue or purple flowers enough to buy them, but I share the garden with my mother who loves blue, so of course there’s a lot of them here anyway.
    I find the classic pink-mauve-lavender-blue-silver combo insipid, but there are a couple of beds in those colours here anyway – because the garden came with any number of nice plants in those colours, as well as the tomato red and orange ones, and even if I wanted to I don’t think I could get rid of all the spreading and self-sowing mallows, asters, columbines and phlox. I try to liven things up with bright magenta and spiky-looking plants in metallic hues like eryngiums and echinops instead. If you can’t beat them, join them…


    Recently I made a valid complaint to McDonalds customer services dept. about McDonalds poor standards at thier Harben Parade branch at Swiss Cottage, London NW3. The complaint concerned slow service, abrasive attitudes, and matters about unacceptable hygeine standards.

    The complaint was passed on to the store by customer services, following which the store’s manager, Bakry, promptly banned me from the store. He did not deny that my complaint was valid, but was told that I was banned simply becauseI I had made the complaint in the first place. Their management team consists entirely of immigrants, having come here on dodgy visas and the like, and all of which in favour of my unjust ban, which shows how much we are now under the control of illegal immigrants.

    Perhaps this is consistent with McDonalds training practices. It would appear that you have to accept their adverse practices without question or suffer the consequences, as I myself did.

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