My previous post showcases the brilliant shades of color that Northeast Ohio experiences during the winter: White, gray-white, bluish white, light yellow, a few shades of brown, and so on. All joking aside, it's actually nice to be able to appreciate subtle color variations during the winter time. An admitted design eclectic, I occasionally have a yen (especially in the wintertime) for a clean, light, Scandanavian-inspired design, and NE Ohio winters give me that fix.
But at this point in the season, I want color. And so I've been avidly following along with the February Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop posts on Color, brought to life by the wonderful folks over at Gardening Gone Wild. I've been wanting to "play along," so to speak, but don't particularly have an overriding color theme in my gardens. So I scrolled through photos, hoping for a post topic to come up and hit me right between the eyes.
And as I looked through the many pictures of my favorite area of the garden, which I think of as "the rhododendron bed," it hit me: This area is probably my favorite because it's always changing colors and textures throughout the season. Check out the first photo, where you see the green spring foliage of Russian sage mingling with an unnamed blue hosta and emerging leaves leaves on the 'Diablo' purple ninebark. The color combo is very fresh and modern.
Now look at the second picture of that same area, after the garlic has been harvested. The Russian sage has turned silvery blue and the dark 'Chocolate Chip' ajuga winds below the hosta.
The 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth seedlings were allowed to grow wherever they wanted, With 'The Watchman' black hollyhock providing even more dark color, this area looks positively moody.
(Never fear: Just in front of this area was a nice grouping of brussels sprouts rosettes to take the edge off... and behind it, 'All Gold' hakonechloa and a grouping of ferns brighten my view from the window!)
On the driveway side of this bed, other amaranth seedlings take on warm hues when backlit and surrounded by fading goatsbeard flowers, the brilliant orange blooms of canna 'Wyoming' and the warm purplish green of bronze fennel.
Later in the summer, orange cosmos, more 'Hopi Red Dye' seedlings, and the red-orange flowers of zauschneria latifolia--along with 'Yubi Red' and a smaller-flowered yellow portulaca--help keep this area nice and warm.
Turn the corner, though, and some of these same plants form a cooler palette with their faces in the sun. The addition of the gray/green /red foliage of 'Voodoo' sedum, fresh lady's mantle foliage (from a post-flowering cutback), more Russian sage, 'Morning Light' miscanthus and 'The Blues' little bluestem grasses frame the hotter foliage and flower colors in an interesting way.
This is not a view that I'll enjoy this year, however, as the miscanthus was in a nursery pot on the driveway and has been moved to a more permanent location. (After viewing the picture I kind of think that's a shame!)
The examples above are kind of extreme in their scope... but there are smaller little vignettes that amuse me with seasonal color changes as well. Here's a picture showing my beloved 'Caradonna' salvia (look at those gorgeous dark purple flower stems!) in May on an overcast day.
The 'Fuldaglut' sedum is showing fresh green foliage with red tinges, white flowers arch over the rock garden from my rather exhuberant blackberry, and in the background you see the flowers from perennial geraniums and an inherited peony mingling. They all cool down the picture.
Contrast that with late July, when the sun is blazing overhead and the white and blue background flowers have been replaced with blazing sedum flowerheads and yellow-edged hosta foliage.
Fading salvia flowers echo the sedum foliage color-wise, and to the right (just out of camera view) is a silver culinary sage that contributes to the hot dry beauty of this combo.
Since I like so many colors (just not... you know... pink) in the garden, I guess it should be no surprise that I tend to go for plants that offer me more than one "look" throughout the season. After all, in small urban gardens like mine, every plant has to earn its place through a mixture of beauty and utility--and chameleon plants earn pretty high marks in the former subject!