In August, gardeners become drunk on color. There are flowers everywhere and the abundance of shades can lift spirits, stop us in our tracks, and make all the work worthwhile.
When I was a child my mother read me a poem by A.A. Milne called The Dormouse and the Doctor. It’s a rather sad poem, really, about a mouse that delighted in “Geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)” A doctor decides that the mouse isn’t doing well and orders “chrysanthemums (yellow and white)”. The dormouse shuts his eyes tightly and dreams of the red and blue flowers that he loves.
The wrong color can drive people crazy as well. I have one client who does not want any yellow in her gardens; only pink, blue, purple and white flowers are acceptable. For this person, and many other consultation customers, orange and red are absolutely out of the question.
I usually stay away from red in my perennial gardens, but I think that a dash of orange makes any flower garden come alive, and in the cutting garden anything goes. I always grow yellow, orange, purple and red dahlias and zinnias… they are as satisfying as a new box of crayons. In fact, some of my favorite cutting garden flowers are the Crayon Colors Zinnias from Renee’s Garden.
In my striving-to-be-humble opinion, there are no wrong color combinations. Red or pink, yellow and white: we should all plant what makes our own heart sing. The dormouse may need to close his eyes and imagine that he sees the flowers he loves, but we don’t have to settle for make believe.
Gardeners can cultivate the surroundings we prefer, and become intoxicated with color.