Saturday, July 28, 2018

What I learned: Excellent Color Echos & Palettes

It. Is. Hot. So hot, in fact, that i had ants trying to get into my freezer to cool off. Sigh. While i figure out how to make them go away, here's another thing I noticed during the Austin Fling.

(also - crazy fires are back in California... hope everyone is doing alright and safe!)

One thing i noticed in Austin was how good some gardeners were at using color palettes, and color echos. Whether a small vignette, or a big, whole garden look, there were so many great ways that people used color to tie things together.

Here were some of the small vignettes i noticed:

this perfect match of pot & abutilon in Pam's garden
the way these dykia play off the heart (also Pam's garden)
this combo of mirror, pot and flower pomegrate hiding in Colleen's garden
this combo of water feature, pot and plant in colleen's garden as well
Colleen's garden in particular had all these little combinations of color vignettes, that i only really noticed when i wandered around the second time. The picture below isn't great, but the purple combo of bench, water and flowers really stood out in person. 
and just around the corner was red - so well done!

In Lucinda's garden, all the colors were represented. But just like in Coleen's garden, she expertly brought colors together in different parts of her garden to make them stand out. 

like this beautiful family of purples and silvers on one of the structures
 At the Margie McClurg garden, this color combo of pot/fountain and japanese maple showed the same "almost same color" approach in plants.
so pretty!
As you might expect, B. Jane's garden used a beautiful all-garden color palette - which was announced by the floating balls on the pool!
This looks like a Gray Malin photograph!
The garden furniture matched, of course!
this little grouping was off in the shade.
The studio door, and Euphoria tirucallit 'Sticks on Fire'continued all the right colors.
how does one match paint to plants that perfectly?
Even the accessories - like the pot on the outdoor stove - matched!
a level of color coordination i will never achieve. 
Thoughts on how to apply this lesson to my garden:
  • Matching plants to the color of my pots might be hard (since my pots are all deep blue), but some good combos should be possible. Maybe more blue-silvery pots to go with some of the blue-silver foliage?
  • I can definitely be more 'on purpose' with flower colors - maybe more yellow flowers under the palo verde? 
  • I like how Colleen (and others) allowed gardens to flow from one color combo to the next - that might work really well in the large bed on the north side (from yellow to purple to TBD to white (?) to yellow?)
  • I should probably consider being more deliberate with the colors i bring into the garden - although it's always hard not to buy every plant i like... Maybe thinking about where to put plants so even the odd colors (like a random pink?) stand out, rather than clash...


  1. Ants in the freezer - that's a new one! We usually have several series of invasions each summer. (They entered through the chimney last year.) Our neighbor shared stuff he'd had success with (Termidor SC), which we sprayed it around the outside perimeter of the house. No ants inside so far this year! I'm sure it's toxic as heck, though.

    I've always enjoyed color echoes and even have a book on their use in the garden. However, I usually allow myself to be captivated by a plant, then get home and spend an hour walking around trying to figure out where to put it.

    1. BASF StewardshipJuly 31, 2018 at 6:12 AM

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. I think the ants were looking for cold, and got stuck. We managed to get rid of them - although i'm sure they are still everywhere outside.

      And i share your approach of plant buying! i'm always amazed when something "matches" in the garden, since i usually just plop things where i think they might look good!

      (and sorry about the random BASF comment - that was weird!)

  2. I battle ants every summer here, they come in through everywhere, the front door, somewhere in the kitchen, through the garage, up through the floor/baseboards. I think the house was built on one big giant anthill.

    I love seeing color echoes like these in gardens that I've toured, I see a lot of them in gardens up here in the PNW. It takes a certain skill that I do not possess. I enjoyed your photos of all the interesting color matches you saw in Austin.

    1. Thanks Alison! We get ants all the time too - i think they are looking for water and not-hot during the summer. I keep trying to remember that they are a part of the ecosystem too!

  3. I usually wing it with plant color, especially flower color! A close look shows more than one color on most blooms and just how forgiving suitable plantings can be. Most of my focus on color is foliage and hardscape. You found some gems in Austin.

    1. foliage and hardscape are super important... which is what i tell myself when i buy another plant that "doesn't match" in flower color!

  4. Good observation on some of the color vignettes in Austin. The reddish-orange Acer and it's matching nearby urn were memorable.

    I found blue pots are not the best for blue foliage--the blue pots out-blue the foliage and make the blue foliage look grey.

    This continuing endless heat is dreadful--hope you are staying cool enough.

    1. Good point on the blue pots vs. blue foliage - i should have noticed that in my own garden... I do like my blue pots near the silver foliage though - it makes it look more silver. (the heat is still here, of course. Hope you're staying cool!)

  5. Hi Renee -- love to hear your continuing thoughts on the Austin Fling. The ants are up to their "ant-ics" (ha!) again this summer, which I've discussed with Kris and learned from her of Termidor. Our defenses this summer have been cinnamon at every port of entry - which makes the house smell like a bakery and really works! -- along with diotemaceous earth sprinkled along the perimeter outside the house. I'd say so far we're doing much better than last summer, but I'm always interested in new strategies. When the defense lines are breached, usually involving their search for water in sinks/shower, we spray 'em with Windex, and that stops the onslaught. Good luck with the freezer!

    1. Thank you for the ant tips! I've found keeping any food or water sources away to be the best technique, although this time i also used some ant-traps near the entry points. They are annoying little buggers, although i keep trying to remind myself that they are important to the garden...

  6. Thanks for noticing my color echo with the burnt orange pot and the tangerine abutilon! Few people seem to notice that. I've had fun with the metal heart too, matching it this spring to the bluish-burgundy dyckias. It's been, at other times, red and pink.

    1. That color echo was gorgeous! I didn't even realize you had changed the color of the metal heart - what a great idea... And it matched the dyckias so well! I can't get those things to stay alive for very long... yours are making me want to try again.


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