I loved Nigel Colborn’s rant about colour, though my laughter was somewhat wry, as I have always been somewhat scared of colour. My sister was “The Artistic One ”, not to mention “The Stylish One”, and my Dad, who I worshipped, thought Dahlias were the ultimate in tasteless vulgarity. So I have always been cautious about combining colours, whether decorating myself, my home, or my garden. I do still love subtlety, and will always want corners of my garden to be peaceful, tranquil, using limited, softer colours.

Fern corner


This is one of my favourite corners in the garden (ignoring the Ground Force-style trellis, for which I have no excuse…)

Allium sphaerocephalon


…and I almost prefer Allium Sphaerocephalon just before it flowers to when in full bloom.

Kanutia macedonica and orange wallflowers


But by a series of happy accidents I have been discovering that I absolutely love bright splashes of colour. It probably started with a trip to B&Q to buy boring DIY things on a wet day in March. I was arrested mid stride by a display of perennial wallflowers, and couldn’t resist. They’ve been flowering their socks off, covered in small buzzing insects, ever since, and when I looked at them through the Knautia macedonica I’d grown from seed as being a suitably chaste and subtle addition to my borders, I realised that I love that combination of orange and deep purple.


This was reinforced when I bunged a pot of dwarf runner beans in a bare patch next to my pond, which also happened to be next to yet more Knautia macedonica (yes, I know, I tend to over sow and then have to find places to put the resulting plants).

Dahlia 'Hillcrest Royal'


I’d already fallen in love with Dahlias – despite my Dad – when I lived and worked at Outdoor Alternative on Anglesey for a year. That’s also where I learned to love sowing seeds…

Carex flagillifera


…which is not without its problems, as I tend to sow too much, even when I am trying not to, and then can’t bare to throw out thriving little plants like these Carex flagillifera. I’ll only be able to use 3, at most, but because the packet said they might be difficult to get to germinate (they weren’t) I sowed extra. And they all came up. And I promise that I didn’t prick out all the seedlings, but I still ended up with a surefeit – there are another 3 lurking in the planthouse. Good job I can dump them give them to friends…

Planning next year's colours


So I am planning next year’s colour, which translates into desperately trying to cut down the list of seeds I am going to order, but I have to hedge my bets, don’t I, because not everything will come up, and not everything will flower in the first year so I have to have things to plug the gaps. So I am going for aconitum and nepeta for deep blues, geum, rudbekia and achillea for reds, oranges, yellows and magentas, and adding various marigolds and snapdragons “just in case”. Wish me luck…

And no, I have never “had my colours done”

4 thoughts on “Colour Me Beautiful

  1. I just love this post! When I saw your picture, planning 2011 at your desk – I had to crack up. I thought I was alone in the ‘up to my elbows’ in books & notes. (Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and your suggestions on ‘wishlist’ plants!!) Your orange/magenta flower combo is wicked-awesome!! My color combos are always so intentional and ‘by the book’ (safe) — time to mix it up!

    (I’ve added your blog to my blog roll – you have some mad skills to share.)

    1. Shyrlene, thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll! I am loving this garden blogging adventure. Thanks, too, for your lovely comments re “mad skills”! I think “mad” is the word – and so much of it has happened by accident, planting things in pots for added interest and seeing that colours I assumed would look aweful near one another and would need careful segregation actually bring out the zing in one another. Now I just have to try and reproduce that in the main beds… Look forward to seeing you in the blogosphere!

  2. I lean to the colours in your top photo but have also become more attracted to the vivids and brights especially at this time of year :) Good luck with the planning and planting for next year.

    1. Hi Anna, thansk so much for visiting my blog and leaving comments. I’m new to this blogging lark, so really appreciate the encouragement. Colour is funny, isn’t it? I still love the muted shades and dominance of leaf form and texture, but feel I’ve gained entry to a new world too, where colour isn’t scary but exciting. I’m hoping to keep some quieter corners in the garden but embrace colour in the main, central area. I think I’ll need all the luck you can send, so thank you!

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