What is your color palette? When I shop at the garden center, I am almost always attracted to bright colors.
My favorite pairing is bright yellow and deep purple, two complementary colors on the color wheel.
My interest in pure bright hues began when I travelled to Oaxaca and Taxco with my family in the eighth grade. As a young person from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I had never seen the colors and vibrancy of design that existed in the pottery and textiles we found in the Mexican markets and craft shops.
Plant the colors you love and that go with your house. One of my favorite examples of an in-depth study in color is the Monet garden in Giverney, France.
American Elizabeth Murray worked and studied in his garden in France and her book, “Monet’s Passion” (Pomegranate Books, 1989), is a record of her gardening experiences at Giverney. Her notes and photographs are stunning and informative.
She recorded, “Monet’s home was bright salmon pink with sea green shutters. In his garden the monochromatic island flowerbed is planted in front of the house echoing the color scheme of pinks and greens.
Pink tulips are edged in white, and planted with a deeper rose tulip. The overplanting is pink, rose and red English daisies, which are perennials.
The collection changed with the seasons, but the colors remained the same. The garden became a living canvas of color that he would later use in his paintings.”
We may not all have the resources or a sizable garden space to work in such as Monet had, but we can create vibrant color statements in our own yards and patios.
While shopping at Anderson’s La Costa Nursery in Encinitas, I came upon a stunning collection based on the analogous colors of purple, magenta and deep pink.
These color combinations work together because they are three “neighbors” on the color wheel, and can give instant success to the gardener looking for pizzazz in their yard. This grouping combines tall deep purple Scabiosa, which are interspersed with multi-color Gerbera Daisies.
And in the background, Alstroemeria presents a flash of background color. Both the Scabiosa and Alstroemeria are perennials, which will last in your garden for years.
“The Yellow House,” as Carlsbad neighbors fondly know it, represents classic Victorian style and a picture perfect garden.
Painstakingly restored by Dru White and her partner Mayur Pavagadhi, the two have put as much painstaking effort into their home as their restaurants, which include Witch Creek, Sleeping Tiger Coffee, Barrio and Paon.
Dru, who has been an “interior designer and collector her whole adult life,” has left no stone unturned to be certain the 1910 Victorian home and the large 1-acre yard combine into one magnificent property.
“We chose a variety of daisies to keep the front yard simple and to coordinate with the color of our home. Even the picket fence fits right into the Victorian look we were creating. Our gardener, Coleman Lydon, has placed and pruned each plant to create a symmetrical look.”
The monochromatic choice of a yellow Marguerite Daisy and a yellow Chrysanthemum allows the eye to view the perimeter of the yard in one glance.
The Marguerite can be pruned as it increases in size over the summer months. The ever-so-slight variance of the yellow theme comes from the addition of a shiny green and yellow Golden Triumph Boxwood placed alternately among the daisies.
Their home is a triumph, and as Dru says, “ I have found what I want to do. This home is my life.”
Whether you have a large back yard or a patio, I hope you have learned from my “Introduction to Garden Color 101.”
Jano Nightingale is a master gardener and horticulturist, and is former director of the Cornell Cooperative Master Gardener Program in Cooperstown, New York. She lives in Vista with her son and works on numerous community gardens. She can be reached at [email protected]
Thank you for mentioning Monet’s Passion! It certainly has been my greatest garden teacher especially about color these last 35 years! My you continute to enjoy your garden and inspiring others to the most beautiful and healing art form.
Hello Elizabeth! I am so flattered that you read my article and enjoyed it! The story behind it was that my parents were avid gardeners and artists from Wisconsin, and sent me your book when I was studying horticulture in New York at the State University College of Agriculture in 2004. After receiving my degree in Horticulture Education, I became Director of the Master Gardener Program at Cornell University in Cooperstown, New York and have taught gardening classes in New York, and now in California. My passion is garden design and creating community gardens. I, too, am also a painter and I have seen your You Tube videos that feature your workshops. I would love to chat with you – could send my your email and a contact number. It is probably not a good idea to do that here, since this is a public column. Once again, thanks for being in touch! From Jano Nightingale, Master Gardener, Vista, CA. My email is [email protected]
To Elizabeth Murray. Thank you so much for finding my column, and for your reply! My parents sent me your book when I was studying horticulture at the State U of NY School of Agriculture in Cobleskill. After receiving my degree (at 54!), I later went on to work for Cornell U. as the Director of the Master Gardener Program Coop Extension in Cooperstown. I taught many classes for “backyard gardeners,” and now live near Carlsbad with my son. I work on community gardens here, teach classes, volunteer at SDBG and write! I would love to talk to you more about your work – could you contact me on my personal email at [email protected] – this link doesn’t give me your contact information. Thanks again! JANO NIGHTINGALE, MASTER GARDENER.
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