Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring in primary colours

Isn't this an amazing hedge? It is like a blast of sunshine, right on your face. It is such an unusual thing to plant (well, at least in my experience), a bold move that demands your attention, shouting "look at me - the spring is here!". I walk past this hedge quite often and hadn't even thought about it earlier, but when in flower, how could you not notice it?
K
K
Don't get me wrong, I really like the unusual Forsythia hedge, but I couldn't help wondering if they chose the colour after the fire hydrant at the other end of it... or maybe the school buses driving past the house every morning? Or the yellow lines on the road or the yellow cabs... all these things shouting for your attention. Yellow is a colour that evokes feelings, in a different way that for example white or light blue, which are so much more neutral. As I asked my clients for their colour preferences for their gardens in Sweden, many of them answered that yellow was not to be considered at all, they did not like the colour as it was so unstylish. Funnily, the Swedish flag is blue and yellow, and the same people happily decorated their cakes with these colours while celebrating birthdays and exams. And I've myself often thought that the Australian colours of green and yellow are so ill-looking, especially then applied to the uniforms worn at the Olympic games...
K

At the same time, a Citrus tree full of juicy lemons has exactly the same colours and is a sight that never fails to please me. And who would not be happy when looking at a field full of sun flowers? So I definitely wouldn't rule yellow out from my garden. The planting above with bright daffodils and flowering Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) is not really a stylish one, but it still looks naively happy, especially together with the kids scooters and the wagon on the side.

Chionodoxa forbesii - not a true blue, but beautiful anyway...

Viburnum davidii with true blue fruits

Blue on the other hand is one of the most unusual colours to be found in a garden. If you think of it, most "blues" are actually more mauves or purples. "True" blues are very rare, but can be found in the wonderfully dark, porcelain blue fruits of Viburnum davidii, which is one the most commonly grown evergreens here. It has strongly veined, dark, glossy green leaves on reddish stems that complement beautifully the strongly blue fruits. Interestingly, most Viburnum davidii plants grown in the "Western" countries are derived from a single Chinese population collected by Ernest Wilson in the early 1900s. Meconopsis betonicifolia with a couple of it's relatives, and Salvia patens are the only other "true" blue plants that I can think of for the moment.

Beautiful little bird's nest in a Japanese maple, Acer palmatum 'Red wood'.

Red flowers are not that usual in the spring, besides red tulips and the odd rhododendron or primroses sold by the dozen at the garden centres. Maybe there is something biological behind this; bees have a difficulty seeing red, so most of the spring flowers are white, yellow or blue to help them find food after the long winter when not much is to be found yet? Otherwise, I love trees and shrubs with red bark, as the elegant Japanese maple above, but otherwise I really don't mind the lack of red flowers this time of the year. Maybe in spring, Christmas is still too near so that when I see Camellias blooming with their bright red flowers, I just hear "jingle bells...", and can't help thinking that they would be beautiful if they only would be white.

9 comments:

camellia said...

Vad härligt att våren kommit så långt hos dig. Jag har också svårt för gult, eller rättare, den där skrikiga gula. Men, så här efter den gråmurriga vintern är en illgul Forsythia ett glatt inslag som man blir lite glad av (jag har två buskar bara, inte en hel häck!). Blått är vidunderligt vackert i blommor. Såg du mina hyacinter tidigare? Jag tycker de är "true blue". Har också irisar som inte blommar än, men som jag minns som riktigt blå också. De röda stammarna är vackra (jag har några Dogwood som har rejält röda nyskott). Och, min Camellia är vit, vit, och oerhört vacker.

Alice Joyce said...

Leaving a quick note to say hi, and that I enjoyed the recent posts. Cheers, Alice

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hej Camellia, jag såg dina hyacinter; jag ska lägga en PS på min post. Visst är blått underbart, lugnande och fint. Men sedan, jag kan nog bli entusiastisk på många saker i trädgården och älska även orange när det gäller....

Hi Alice, thanks for your comment; I am coming to California for the first time in my life in early August and need input on gardens to visit in the San Francisco area, so I am so happy of finding you (or you finding me..)!

TT said...

Spring is early where you live.

Utblickaren said...

Gillar verkligen dina blogginlägg de alltid välskrivna, tankeväckande och inspirerande. Visst kan gul vara en svår färg, det var/är den för mig med, har massor av praktlysning sprakande i rabatten tillsammans med en ölandstok-häck... Men jag börjar vänja mig och det har t.o.m. gett mersmak, It sets my frontgarden on fire;)
/U

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hej Utblickaren, tack för dina ord! Din blogg är väldigt snygg också, jag skulle vilja kunna göra så snygga "logon" som du har på ding blogg. Jag har märkt att ju mer jag håller på med trädgårdar och odling, desto mindre har jag några "hick-ups" kring vad som är snyggt eller passar; på något sätt ser jag mer växternas rikedom utan några traditionella normer på vad som är snyggt...

James A-S said...

What a very interesting post. Oddly I have just written a post (http://www.gardenersworld.com) excoriating Forsythia for being too yellow. It is a shame really as it is an enthusiastic shrub but it is the wrong colour for that time of year.
Red is the colour of July and December.
June is pink, apricot, pale blue, purple and sparkling white.
September is burnt orange, yellow and dark red
October is denim blue and washed mulberry.
etc

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hello James, I was thinking about the "yearly colour-scheme" of plants; yellow coming up both in the spring and then again in the autumn. Daffodils, colt's foot (the ultimate children's spring flower in Scandinavia), yellow star-of-Betlehem, Eranthus, all these strong yellows coming up everywhere. So yellow really has two seasons, but it probably feels much more intensive to our winter tired eyes. I enjoyed your posting at the Gardener's World a lot.

disa said...

慈德宮,龍南漆藝博物館,竹山竹管厝,陳列教育館,中興新村,東埔溫泉,清安豆腐街,金龍窯,火炎山,橫龍山古道,中港慈裕宮,大湖農村,挑柴古道,龍騰斷橋,森林遊樂區,卓蘭果園,外埔漁港,龍鳳漁港,清德禪寺,欣隆休閒農場,馬術農場,童玩村
泰安溫泉區,南庄老街
溫泉遊樂區,綠葉方舟,明德水庫,仙山,鳳陽谷,三角湖,木雕街,通霄蘆沐村風,香格里拉樂園,馬拉邦山,薑麻園,海濱休閒園區,鳴鳳山古道,火車窿,勝興火車站,挑鹽古道,獅頭山,藺草文化館,永和山水庫,大克山,通霄秋茂園,大衛營,清泉農場,雪霸國家公園,蜜蜂休閒館,挑炭古道,三通嶺,建民農場,自然保留區,永和山農場,八通關古道,明新書院,石觀音吊橋,戰車公園,軍史公園,桂花森林松柏嶺,梅峰農場,棋盤石,巧手工作坊
桃米生態村,溪頭,杉林溪森林遊樂區,李勇廟,竹山保安宮,沐陶窯
玉山國家公園