Not really. In fact, I know colorblind gardeners—even
colorblind painters—who do very well, so I should not use the term lightly. But
there are some color issues in my garden, and it is probably too late to do
very much about them. I’m clueless about color planning and my garden shows it.
For example, I am unlikely to tear up either the crimson
roses or the magenta clematis that coexist rather jarringly in the only bed
with full sun. There is no place else for them to go, and both are so
established that it seems a shame to disturb them. Had there been planning, a
nice blue-purple or white clematis would have been lovely. Maybe the blue
clematis with yellow foliage (alpina ‘Stolwijk Gold’) would have provided an
But who really plans these things? Maybe a designer
presented with a tabula rasa from which to build a garden. Not a gardener who
inherits an established garden, changes a lot of it, keeps some of it, decides
on pink lilies one year, hates pink lilies two years later, decides on a
purple/yellow scheme the next year, but doesn’t want to disturb the established
pink lilies—and so on.
Color combinations often just happen to gardeners who love
plants for themselves more than for the impact they might make, and often buy
on impulse. There are lots of books about color in the garden, but that just adds
to the shame. For most of us, it’s too late for books.
For example, I love the sunset colors of coleus and the iridescent
purple of strobilanthes. Should they be together, as above? Probably not. Then why
are they? I’m not sure, except that I needed plants to fill that container.
And above we have what might pass for a charming unstudied
cottage garden scheme, but nonetheless, doesn’t represent one iota of
forethought about color.
Do I care? Not really, though I daydream about that cool
purple, white and yellow bed that I might have had as I gaze at the yellow and
red combinations I do have. What’s your worst color combination? Can you link
to it? The biggest clash will win a nice book about how to make colors work in
the garden from Timber. Entries close at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday
ADDENDUM: Here are the books I am giving from Timber: Green Flowers (Hoblyn and O’Hara), Plant-Driven Design (Ogden and Springer), and The Book of Blue Flowers (Geneve). Of course, I’ll need links to color clashes, or (relenting) good descriptions. See, I’m too accepting; that’s why I have these clashes.