It was the great Christopher Lloyd, who upon my first visit to Great Dixter, facilitated me in opening my eyes to the fact that startling, contrasting color could make for an exuberant, edgy garden. When I took my first stroll down his long border and saw crisp red and orange cannas a few feet away from some sweet, deep pink flower, close to the color of Geranium psilostemon, I felt my skin crawling. It took a few more years for me to begin to appreciate Lloyd’s authentic ‘joie de vivre’ and keen sense of color in creating his garden palettes. So, for those of us (of which I think there are several) who still feel a bit tentative and restrained in experimenting with a wide swathe of colors in the garden, I say bite the bullet and let it rip. As my gardening pal, Chris Woods, has always contended in a somewhat saracastic tone: ” This is not brain surgery. It’s only plants. If you don’t like how they look, take them out and start over again”.
In this first picture at Doe Run in Unionville, Pa., orange potentilla becomes even more electric when placed in front of a grouping of pale and deeper pink astibles. Orange and pink together? You bet. It’s a winner!
This next picture, again at Doe Run, is almost the mirror image of the first with a soft pink Filipendula palmata in the background with masses of golden rudbeckia and a bi-colored orange-yellow type of daisy (anyone know its nomenclature?) taking center stage.
At Chanticleer’s hillside garden in mid-summer, the effect of Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, with just the hint of a delicate, deep, almost magenta flower flitting about in the landscape, is breathtaking.
And what can be more stunning than the simplicity of a single Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, surrounded by the soft pinkish, violet petals of some echinaceas with their golden disks?
Another example of a wide pallete of colors working together…orange, red and pink and purple…doing beautifully in a spring scene at Chanticleer. To my eye, it is the soft purple of the large allium heads which act as the foundation of these photos.
And finally, another meadow scene at Chanticleer, with Allium atropurpureum leading the way, followed by a chorus of other colors, blending and contrasting: but over all, a picture of great exuberance, encompassing a wide range of colors.