Sunday, August 23, 2009


That’s a good question! How many color choices do we have? Well, there’s white, red, blue, yellow, pink, purple, and orange, but let’s not forget the variations of these basic colors. There must be dozens if not hundreds of colors!
How do we put colors together to create a pleasing palette? As is often the case, the answer is – it depends.
We can make a nice red, white, and blue garden; and yellows go well with blues, if that suits our fancy. There is an infinite number of combinations, limited only by our imagination and our taste.
We often try to introduce many colors into a garden spot, and this can result in a very nice display. Sometimes just using two colors will result in a dynamite scene.
But another interesting use of color is to concentrate on using the available variations on just a single color. Let’s take the color purple for example. Just look at a partial list of perennials that are a shade of purple: Russian Sage, Purple Coneflower, Lavender, Ajuga, Purple Ice Plant, Lilac, Gayfeather, Veronicas, Poppy Mallow, Salvias, Allium, Columbine, and Pasqueflower, not to mention the cultivars of Roses, Iris, Tulips, and Mums that can be a purple color. We can use gradations of purple so that between purplish red to purple to purplish blue, we have lots of opportunities to be creative.
Of course, we need to consider the cultural needs of the plants we choose. Some are xeric while others need more water. Some need full sun and others can do well with some shade. Other considerations in creating a plant list are the size and texture of the plants.

One example of what can be done is the xeric combination of Russian Sage, Purple Ice Plant, and Poppy Mallow (aka Winecups). With this combination, we have three different variations of purple, and we have two ground covers that look nice with the larger Russian Sage. Adding some non-flowering gray foliaged plants such as an Artemisia or Lamb’s Ear to the purple scheme would further enhance this garden.

For what it’s worth, here is a collection of factoids about the color purple:
-Purple has been traditionally associated with royalty in many cultures. Purple robes were worn by royalty and people of authority or high rank.
-A mysterious color, purple is associated with both nobility and spirituality. The opposites of hot red and cool blue combine to create this intriguing color.
-Purple has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious.
-Because purple is derived from the mixing of a strong warm and strong cool color it has both warm and cool properties. A purple room can boost a child's imagination or an artist's creativity. Too much purple, like blue, could result in moodiness.
-The color of mourning for widows in Thailand, purple was the favorite color of Egypt's Cleopatra.
-Deep or bright purples suggest riches while lighter purples are more romantic and delicate. Use redder purples for a warmer color scheme or the bluer purples to cool down.