Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Color Clash: Where Do I Go From Here?

I'm not normally the sort of gardener who obsesses over clashing colors in my flower beds.  In fact, I'm rather an "anything goes if I like it" sort of person.  However, I find myself being challenged by color clashes in my front yard this spring.

Specifically, I have a couple plants that I absolutely adore:  downy phlox (Phlox pilosa), a beautiful soft purplish pink bloomer that goes from December through June, and Indian pinks (Spigelia marilandica), a graphically spectacular bloom of bright red with yellow highlights.  For better or worse, because I love both of them, I planted both of them in my front flower bed...pretty close to each other.

And they clash.  Even to my eye, they clash.  (The phlox is on the left, the Indian pinks are on the right, and a Darrow's blueberry is in the middle.)

I guess I figured that one of them wouldn't do so well, leaving just one for me to enjoy, but they fooled me!

Now I have a dilemma.  Which should I transplant, if either?

The downy phlox provides great color for months AND it stays low.  It blends well with foliage of the Darrow's blueberry subshrubs (Vaccinium darrowii) that are also doing well in that bed and with the spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) and the blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) that bloom spectacularly in the front gardens during the spring.

The Indian pinks bloom for a much shorter period of time than the downy phlox, but I have a special place in my heart for them.  I've tried them unsuccessfully in both my Mobile and in my Clearwater, Kansas, gardens, so having them do well here is exciting.  Truthfully, I'm a little scared to transplant them and risk watching them wither in a different spot.

The first time I saw Indian pinks was on a garden tour in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where they provided a thick, blooming carpet on a shady hillside.  I've never forgotten that spectacular sight.

While the Indian pinks clash with the downy phlox (and truthfully with the Darrow's blueberry too), they look great with the native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) that seems to have found a happy home in my garden where it has started to seed itself about a bit.

So far the columbine hasn't seeded itself close to the downy phlox, but it would clash, too, if they grew in close proximity.

So, fellow gardeners, any thoughts?  I won't promise to follow your advice, but I value it nonetheless!  Maybe your thoughts will help me clarify my own.....


charlotte said...

I hadn't read your blog before commenting. Really I think adding more colors would be the answer. I remember hearing that a person shouldn't worry about colors clashing. If you added some plants that were two-tone-red/yellow or other combinations, the differences in color from blue to red etc. should not stand out as much.Just a thought.

greggo said...

move the red

Wise Mama said...

It seems to me that you've already answered your own question, Cynthia, but you don't like the answer so you're hoping for something different. It appears to me that your options are to live with the clash or move the Pinks. My question is are they thriving well enough where they are to move a part of them to another location so that you'll still have some if they don't like the new home? Tough choices! I am frequently thankful that I have not been blessed with an eye for color and design. It seems to make life so difficult sometimes. I love what you have in that bed and appreciate your posts.

Anonymous said...

You might have already found a solution and I’m not a garden designer, but I wonder if adding a plant with soft yellow flowers between the phlox and Indian pinks could help diffuse the clash you see? A yellow columbine, a Coreopsis, or a small Oenothera could complement either plant. I tend to be a “more is more” gardener though!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Donna, thanks so much for your feedback (and kind comments)! You hit the nail on the head...but, so far, I've found a way to compromise. I've purchased several more Indian pinks and planted them in the back yard where I'm hoping they'll take off. If they do well, I'll probably move these individuals from the front yard around to the back next spring or fall (if we're still here). I'd love to see how your gardens are coming along if you ever get the chance to share photos!