Friday, July 27, 2012

Colour Schemes Gone Astray

When I first started planning the entrance flower bed I had a picture in my mind.  A cottage garden packed with flowers ranging in colour from whites and silvers to soft pinks and purples.  I picked up various plants on sale in the first couple years and last season started working on putting it all together (See this post.)

I even put together collages of the chosen plants to get a better idea how they would look side by side.

Starting at the top left:  Veronica, Artemisia, Bell flowers, Lamb's Ears, Rose Mallow and Meadowsweet at centre
This season I have worked hard to add more plants to this bed and arrange things in a way that shows flowers and foliage in a complementary way.  To my surprise, it looks nothing like what I planned?!  Instead of a romantic pastel scene the garden is looking rather  - vibrant.  How did that happen?

Definitely not pastel
Some of the choices were innocent mistakes.  I picked up this pink Astilbe chinensis 'Visions' thinking it was a soft pink and the reality was this.

Shocking, almost neon, pink was the true colour.

A soft purple penstemon was purchased and when it bloomed this spring it looked like this.

Hot pink blooms.  Not the cultivar I had thought I was purchasing.

Hubby purchased Stargazer Lilies for me this spring and I decided to plant them out in this bed.

Another strong pink colour in the mix.

Some of the choices have been thoroughly my own.  I took a half dozen Evening Primrose home from the plant sale last spring.

These flowers are a very strong, bright yellow, nothing soft or pastel about them but they were hard to resist.

Also irresistable was this Ruby Wedding Astrantia.

I have been pining for Astrantia for several years now so was pleased to find some for sale no matter what the colour.

What I am noticing, as each flush of blooms is produced, is that the groupings of plants as a whole has a decidedly bright look.  I think I once mentioned I love jewel tones and it has become evident now how true that statement was.

In this photo I paired the cotton candy blooms of meadowsweet with dark purple veronica and old gold juniper.  There is nothing soft about this colour grouping at all.  It would appear my love of strong colours took over while my mind checked out.

A better organized gardener would not have let this happen but I find it rather amusing.  The heart knows what it wants and my hands simply do the work.  One of my joys when I garden is I can let my mind wander, simply enjoying the experience of being outside rather than focusing on details.  The result seems to be a garden that is truer to who I am.  Instead of buying a plant because it fits a colour or planting scheme I have let myself go a little wayward and purchase things simply because I am drawn to them.

Next season is sure to be quite an eyefull as plants fill out and newer purchases start to bloom.  This year I added bi-colour monkshood, red valerian, mixed columbine, and purple Siberian iris.  I now see that I've picked yet more strong colours for this bed.  Unintentional but greatly looked forward to.


  1. Isn't that the way, though? That you would want and get the opposite. Time to play the game of 'reverse psychology' and see what happens! ;)

  2. I think that's lovely, your true desire for your garden is out, as it's such a large bed in a large garden it can carry a lot of strong colour, Frances

  3. I think your garden looks beautiful with all that color. Nature puts together all sorts of colors and it looks wonderful. I think you should relax and enjoy the fact that they are healthy and blooming.

  4. I love really vibrant gardens. :o) Our gardens always tend to show our true selves. I actually have a few difficult areas that are super boring that I've been trying to figure out how to jazz up. I think your bed looks GREAT!

  5. The dreamy romantic pastels, have grown up, dressed up and now you have jewels for the celebration. An anniversary garden? For your move to Canoe Corner?

    Is your aloe an Aloe vera?

    1. Diana, hmmm, you might be hitting on a new prettier name for that bed. I believe it's an aloe vera, hoping it doesn't grow too much bigger as I don't have any larger pots!

  6. Your garden emerged as a wonderful surprise, didn't it! I had the opposite experience in the flower garden surrounded by my birch trees. I wanted strong pops of color and big blowsy fillers of foliage, but pastels and things with small leaves got planted. Not really romantic, more moody and grumpy looking I am changing it over, adding more bright strong things now.

    A woman with a red floor in her piano room is bound to have jewel tones and bright colors in her garden!

  7. I always have an idea of what the finished garden will look like but the end product rarely matches what I had in mind. And it's usually more beautiful like yours.

  8. Think we garden with our this one, love that one....ohhh how pretty.
    I love your explosion of jewel tones. I go for strong colors and white. Depending on the light, some colors show up better than others.

  9. It looks beautiful to me, any shade of color is wonderful. Our gardens rarely stay the same, they do change, even if we don't realize it right away.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  10. The plants are beautiful, Marguerite, both separately and together. This doesn't look to me like a color scheme gone astray as much as a brilliant serendipitous color scheme discovered. :-) -Jean

  11. I think we've all done this at some point. I have a couple of garden areas that started out as pastels and wound up being a mix of soft hues and hot colors, too. The garden has a way of doing what it wants, and the end result is usually surprising. Your garden turned out with a lovely mix of colors, even if it isn't what you intended.

  12. How often do things turn out as we expected? Rarely! I find that even more so in the house than the garden, I buy things that I am attracted to, and they somehow all work together. I think your flowerbed is coming along very nicely, Marguerite.

  13. I think that gardens are not meant to be 'set' just by their very nature. Even with the same plants some years I'm surprised at how different a space can look.