Green With Ennui
An article in the most recent issue of Fine Gardening, entitled “Designing with green”, opens with this statement: “This ubiquitous color, when used well, can be just as exciting as vibrant flowers.”
To which the obvious response is: No. No, it can’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate green-only plants. I understand that there are intriguing variations in the size, texture, and sheen of leaves. Plus, I get that green can come in a wide variety of shades: light and dark, yellow and blue.
Ostrich fern (Metteucia struthiopteris) and wild ginger (Asarum canadense) are probably my two favorite plants grown for no other color, and I have quite a bit of both in my garden.
But I’m sorry. An all-green garden, no matter how varied and artfully designed, cannot be as exciting as a garden full of red, blue, orange, pink, and/or yellow flowers. That’s just how I feel.
People with shady gardens may feel slighted by this view. They may feel that green is the only option available to them. This is not true, of course. There are perennials (especially spring bloomers) that will flower in shady gardens, and annuals that will bloom all season long in shade. Not to mention all the foliage plants that come in a variety of colors. I am especially fond of white and green caladiums, myself.
Green is by nature a soothing color, not an exciting one. It links and calms all of the more dazzling colors of the garden. This is an extremely valuable service to provide to the gardener.
Also, who is to say that all gardens should be exciting? An all green garden could be very tranquil, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Colors, like people, should not try to be all things to all gardens.
One thing I have to say, though. I have very mixed feelings about green flowers. I do like Chartreuse flowers, such as those of ladies’ mantle (Alchemilla mollis) or wild currant (Ribes americanum). But flowers of green or white suffused with green, such as you find on some tulips or hellebores – to me they look like they are coming down with a case of food poisoning. Blech.
What do you think – do you find green to be an exciting color? And what about green flowers?