Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Colorado means red in Spanish, you know...

In the last few weeks I've had two separate sets of house guests (from Southern and Northern California respectively), both [incidentally] renowned and eminent gardeners who let me know in no uncertain terms that pink is out. Southern California Cathy is partial to yellow and northern California Robin is understandably fond of blue: I confess that yellow and blue are dear to me (I recall when Herb Schaal, a principal of EDAW which is now something else gently reprimanded me for having a bit too much yellow in the Rock Alpine Garden some fifteen or twenty years ago: I was a man ahead of my time, obviously)...but I confess, I am a chromophiliac, a lover of all things hued and tinted. I could no more eschew fuchsia than apotheose apricot. I admire all colors, including the rheumy green (although I can't bring myself to quote directly) of Dublin alluded to repeatedly in Ulysses. Our sere steppe landscape is the very embodiment of neutral colors: yes, that rheumy green, ash, tan, auburn, teal, ginger, charcoal, lavender, mahogany, brown, gray, grey, brunette, golden, silver, sandy, blonde, bronze, brass...and did I mention brown and gray? It is an acquired taste...especially tonight as the ax falls and my autumn sages shown above and below will likely be crisped.
So in the face of a landscape so feathered and smoothed by neutral tints, the flash of magenta or the scream of scarlet (either in neutral light, when they positively glow...but more especially in the omnipresent glare of our year around sun) is a thrilling and welcome thing.
So I delight when Salvia greggii 'Wild Thing' (the one above in the picture below) produces an even more splendid hybrid with nearby Salvia 'Raspberry Delight' (the hybrid is the plant pictured at the start of this blog, and in the lower part of the picture below). I am quite sure that both Robin and Cathy will shudder when I say that I have come to love magenta and scarlet (those strumpets of Victorian taste) dearly.

I am saddened that they will be silenced for many months (seven at least, although one year we had Salvia greggii 'Furman's Red' open its first flower the last day of April!)...Seven months of red fury is enough I suppose.
Colorado means red in Spanish, you know. You can hardly expect us to follow California in this one instance...


  1. Pink is NOT out and what do they know they are from the other side of the divide.... Glen

  2. You didn't waste any time, buster! Glad I have a fellow pinkophile...I will get to that seed soon!

  3. So now our pink gardens are guche. A pox on leftcoasters who hew to designer colors in garden plants. Wonder what they did during the advertising era of "Everyzing Brown Now".

  4. A-mazing.
    To begin with, color is such a ding an sich kind of affair. Our brain tells us what we see. But both our brain and what it tells us we see are short a few rods. Cats and dogs never get to see pink, only yellows, grays and blues (I hear). Are CA-ians making gardens for their indoor pets? I know they do cemeteries for them ;-} Bees and butterflies of course see much more color than we. Since we already know the human palette is short a few rods, how does it make sense to limit it further? I presume you are not talking landscapers but plantsmen.
    Whew! Given Androsace sarmentosa chumbyi with its silvery pink pompoms, or shimmery pink Saxifraga dinikii or bullseye Dionysia afghanica or any pink primula, penstemon or salvia, what planstman can resist? Absolutely not me. Maybe they just don't grow well in CA. So keep on working that red cone Colorado! They say, use it or lose it.

  5. A treat to hear from you, Elisabeth! I never heard that about dogs. No, Robin and Cathy are eminent gardeners in design as well as plantsmanship: I shall be examining their gardens with renewed curiosity in a few weeks when I visit them!

    You are growing Saxifraga dinikii? I obtained one little rooted cutting from Rick Lupp, which died while I was in Kazakhstan and the water system failed (one of my few casualties, thank Heavens!). I have just had a simply fabulous year.

    And I love pink flowers more than ever!


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