Brilliant! Dazzling! Bright, vivid, and sparkling! With so much gloom and doom in the news, what we gardeners need right now is color, and the more intense, the better. It’s still snowing outside (yes, today, on the first day of spring), but that won’t stop me from enjoying the flowers of summer inside.
While pastels make for lovely, serene gardens, current events call for boldness, and the brighter the better. This year, choose combinations that will knock your socks off.
There are a number of ways you can maximize impact. One is to select colors that are opposite one another on a color wheel: yellow and purple, red and green, blue and orange. Most foliage is conveniently green, the perfect background for flowers in bright reds and pinks.
While any color can be intense, the warmer colors have more of an impact. Red, orange, and yellow demand to be noticed.
Don’t be afraid to pair colors that would otherwise clash—when it comes to nature, even the most unlikely combinations look good.
This is the year to skip the delicate shades and look for flowers that come in intense colors. Aim for profuse bloom, those plants where the flowers nearly cover the foliage. There are far too many possibilities to list, but here are a few to get you started.
Annuals (including non-hardy perennials) include California poppies, celosia, cosmos, blanket flower (Gaillardia), lantana, marigolds, Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia), petunias, snapdragons, and zinnias.
If your yard is shady, plant begonias and impatiens. I’ll include dahlias here, as they aren’t hardy enough to overwinter in Colorado, and the tubers must be dug and held until spring.
When it comes to perennials, there are hundreds of Colorado-friendly options. Every year, breeders announce new cultivars of hardy ice plant, each more impressive than the last.
Purple coneflowers also come in florescent shades of tangerine and raspberry, and so do African daisies.
Add some yellows—basket of gold, sulfur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), coreopsis, gazania ‘Colorado Gold’, and cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma). Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria) never fails to impress.
Yarrow comes in vivid hues such as ‘Coronado Gold’ or ‘Paprika’, and daylilies come in a rainbow of colors.
Then finish the season with vermilion California fuchsia (Epilobium), yellow or orange Helenium, and chrysanthemums.
Then there are shrubs and vines. Roses immediately come to mind, but forsythia, , and , provide flowers in season as well. Mustard yellow rabbitbrush blooms late and persists into fall.
Finally, don’t overlook the possibilities foliage offers. Greens range from chartreuse to deep forest. Reds might be cherry red, burgundy, or maroon. Coleus leaves may sport all these and more. Falls brings more hues of russet, burnt oranges, and fuchsia.
Planting an eye-popping garden won’t stop a pandemic, but it will brighten not just your yard, but your spirits.