I am not at all systematic about color. I mean, I do think about which plant combinations look good. But I have never had a color scheme for any of my flower beds as a whole.
Not that I felt the lack of a color scheme very acutely up until now. I was too busy figuring out how to jam in some plant I had just fallen love with.
But lately I’ve been overcome by a sense of inadequacy, and inadequacy that is most intense while I’m looking at illustrations of garden design books. And so now I must have a color scheme. I’m going to start with the raised bed that lies along the driveway and the walk to the front door.
My color scheme for this bed will be blue, orange, and yellow – with accents of white and mauve. Why? Well, two reasons.
First, I like these colors, and I’ve always been attracted to the contrast between the cooler blue and the warmer orange and yellow. I just like the combination. If I knew more about color theory I might have an explanation for this, but I don’t.
Second, I don’t want to get rid of the many plants I already have that are blue, orange, or yellow. Or white (Oriental lilies ‘Casa Blanca’), or mauve (Eupatorium ‘Gateway’). Hence the accents.
But something must be sacrificed in order to make room for the new order. And that something is: purple coneflowers. I’ll be sad to say farewell, but I’m also tired of the aster yellows that seems to strike every year.
Here’s what I have currently that fits into my blue/orange/yellow future.
Blue. Grape hyacinth for spring, cranesbill (Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’) and blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) for late spring and early summer, plus Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’), anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), and catmint (Nepeta ’kit kat’) for summer. The bergamot is more lavender but that’s close enough.
Yellow. Celandine poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) for spring, gray headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) for summer, and bluestem goldenrod (Solidago caesia) for fall.
Orange: Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Eye-yi-yi’) for summer, plus orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘fulgida’) for summer and fall. Though I always thought orange coneflower was actually more an orange-hued yellow, but whatever.
What I need to complete the new color scheme is more summer yellow or orange at the northern end of the bed – near the anise hyssop. Also, more blue for summer and fall at the southern end, near the ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye weed. Though I’m less worried about fall, because the surrounding beds have lots of blue/purple asters.
For the yellow/orange, I’m thinking either more grey headed coneflower or the new purple coneflower cultivar ‘Tikki Torch’, which is a nice orange. I’ve always resisted these new Echinacea varieties, the colors often seemed just wrong, but now I’m tempted. I also want to plant more butterflyweed just behind the nepeta.
For the blue, I’ve got some ideas I’m excited about. First, I’d like to put in a shorter butterfly bush (Buddleia), something like ‘Adonis Blue’ that grows 4-5′. Second, I’d go with 2-3 bluebeard ‘Longwood Blue’ (Caryopteris x clandonensis). Though if I had to eliminate one of these, I think it would be the Buddleia.
Finally, I’d grow morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’) up some kind of tutuer near the Joe Pye. Wouldn’t that be a great combination?
Any suggestions? Would you go with the grey headed coneflower or the purple coneflower ‘Tikki Torch’? Or do you have another suggestion for orange or yellow? And the catalogs say you can integrate Buddleia ‘Adonis Blue’ into a flower bed – would you be skeptical? All feedback gratefully accepted!