Friday, December 31, 2010
As 2010 leaves us, we hope you'll enjoy this little slideshow of some of the memorable leaves from the year behind. It doesn't always have to be about the flowers... although a few did sneak in here and there.
We hope that 2010 leaves you with fond memories, and that 2011 brings you health, happiness and the best of your best wishes. Happy New Year from those Battersby girls at Toronto Gardens.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
|Naughty Berberis 'Rose Glow' in its brazen autumn garb, with a leaf in just the right place|
However, this post is about colour, not conscience. And the issue I want to draw your attention to is the issue of neutrality… or how to use neutral colours in the garden to tone down heat such as red.
What is a neutral? It's an unsaturated colour with a lower value or intensity. In the garden, grey often comes to mind. The examples I focus on here are cream or tan – a soft yellow or dull green.
Note how the creamy yellow in the sugar maple leaf attracts your eye and gives it a rest amidst the all-out red and purple foliage. It offers a small island of calm. That's one of the benefits of a neutral.
In this outstanding Orienpet hybrid lily, see how the neutral cream border both accents and alleviates the intensity of the dark red petal centres? While a deep yellow trim would still have made a beautiful lily, the effect wouldn't be as coolly elegant as this.
Tan or bronze is an interesting new foliage colour that is now appearing in plants such as the sedge Carex 'Bronze' or Heucherella 'Sweet Tea.' With 'Henna', the neutral tan brings out the attractive serrations and the texture of the leaf. Although the tan covers quite a bit of the upper leaf surface, it still allows the red-purple to shine. In fact, I think it makes it richer.
|Solenostemon 'Henna' is great in containers|
You might have noticed that the proportion of neutral to intense colour grows in each of these images. The last shot is an inverse of the first, with a blush of red in a plane of straw-toned grasses and tulips. This spring bed at the Toronto Botanical Garden graduated in colour, from pale buffs at one end to intense reds at the other. It was a dramatic picture, and it gained at least some of its power from the subtle quiet in the neutrals.
|Tulips in the Garden Hall Courtyard of the Toronto Botanical Garden|
For more ideas on neutrals such as grey and black, check out this Canadian Gardening article by Judith Adam. And here's the link to Part 1 of our Toronto Gardens article on Cooling down the reds.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
|Papaver orientalis 'Beauty of Livermere' is an astonishingly red red*.|
So, given the almost-winter chill, why talk about cooling red down? And what does this unabashed blast of colour have to do with cooling, for Pete's sake? Hang in and see.
When gardeners put red with other colours, they usually go for intensity. Intense contrasts such as red and white, or red and and its triad blue... or red, white and blue! In analogous palettes (analogous colours are the ones closest together on the colour wheel), red is often thought of as going with colours on the hot side. Think of a tropical red, orange and yellow garden, for instance.
But this analogous pairing, red and purple, is another thing. It's a Red Hat Society combination, the one the poem tells us "doesn't go." I happen to love it. One of the reasons is that the blue pigment in the purple moves the palette towards the cooler side of the colour wheel. It cools down the red.
|Red in the Echinacea disks echoes the red Monarda flowers|
|Red Japanese maple, very likely Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood', with a pink polyantha rose that looks like it could be Rosa 'The Fairy'|
If you're interested in experimenting over the dark months, you might like to visit colour palette generator sites like COLOURlovers or Color Scheme Designer. While some of the colours on these sites aren't ones you'd find in nature, they let you play around, unleash your wild side (with no repercussions) and simply get a sense of what works, what you like and what you don't.
Go ahead. Light a fire under your imagination... even if you don't care for the colour red.
Our series on Cooling down the reds continues here.
(*If the picture at the top looks familiar, it's because this cultivar of poppy is on my Lust List.)
Thursday, December 02, 2010
|She's a perfect poster girl for my post on yellow: the much-maligned Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro' (not, as is often written, 'Stella d'Oro'). This photo shows how effective she can be "when well used."|
What could be more apropos than to begin with yellow, the colour of that missing sunshine? When people, by whom I mean gardeners, declare they don't like yellow, it always surprises me. Don't like yellow? Yellow? What's not to like? Like poor old Stella de Oro daylilies, the plant that gardeners love to hate, it seems to me that the colour gets all the blame for the sins of the gardener.
We need a serious dose of sunshine, so I'm here to sing the praises of yellow. Think of it in all its variations, from the palest buff of fall grasses to the trumpet blasts of daffodils, from the bordering-on-greens to the tinged-with-reds. Yellow can be an accent or a complement. The blues of blue, f'rinstance, look just that much bluier when paired with yellow. It's a simple law of physics.
So let's have no more of that I hate yellow stuff, gardeners. First, hate is an emotion that doesn't belong in the garden. Second, it's shockingly limiting to cut yourself off from the full colour palette that nature provides us. Don't hate; be brave enough to embrace your inner yellow.
Now, enjoy the pictures, and please come back to think colourful thoughts.
|Some people object to the shade that my sister Sarah calls "eggy yellow." Yet the sunnyside-up colours of Tulipa tarda are so welcome in the spring garden. This is a low-growing species tulip that is fairly reliable about making repeat appearances year after year – unlike some of its puffed-up cultivar cousins.|
|Laburnum or golden chain tree can be a dramatic sight in late May or early June. This showy member of the immense legume family is a distant cousin of peas and beans. But please don't eat it – all parts of the laburnum are poisonous.|
|Ginkgo, ginkgo, ginkgo. No, I'm not doing a bad Cary Grant impression, I'm reminding myself how to spell the word. It's gink-go, not, as it is usually pronounced, ging-ko. By the way, the fall leaves are fabulous. Yes, that's the technical term.|