Is spring finally here? I ask this quietly and under my breath. We had a few hot days early March, a few warm days, then snow and freezing temperatures. The hosta I planted last week look like wilted lettuce; I hope they rally because they look very poorly right now. One of my favorite trees, the three-flowered maple, is full of crispy, frost-stung leaves. My neighbor’s yellow-flowering magnolia was gorgeous for about a day and now looks like a blow torch was put to it. I can only think the plants hate the roller coaster ride of weather as much as we. This morning I was out to the job site noting an outside air temperature reading of 42 degrees. Brrr…  Lots of layers on to start but at least it did warm up enough to not feel cold by lunchtime.

Event re-cap: If you’ve never been, next year make plans to attend the Camden County Women’s Health Conference. In addition to a representatives from county services offices of which you may not be aware, there are vendors promoting their their health-related products and services plus lectures by subject matter experts. And it’s a free event. It was an awful lot of fun to present on my favorite topic and meet a bunch of gals who are as keen on being green as I.  Before Saturday I thought April snows only came to Buffalo, yet maybe it brought more people to the conference who otherwise would have been outdoors.

About the color wheel. In design school, we made these pie-chart-like projects to help us get to know these colors and combinations and how we could use color successfully in our projects–why certain color combinations were more pleasing. Simply put, the primary colors–red, blue and yellow have their positions in a peace-sign formation. Between them are violet, green and orange made by mixing half each of the primary colors, then becoming secondary colors. The complementary colors are then blue-orange, yellow-purple, and red-green, directly across from each other on the wheel in formation. I call them “Power Colors.” Sometimes it almost hurts your eyes to look at them in their purest form—maybe you would consider them garish. The combinations are softened a bit if the shades are “blue-ish” or maybe pale yellow, when they become tints, shades or tones: a tint is adding white; a shade is made by adding black, a tone is made by adding gray. Merlot is hot on the color trends right now –just take a look at recent red-carpet looks of Hollywood to confirm. Like it or not, fashion does dictate so many other design trends, including garden color trends. Since merlot is red-ish, not primary red, you might be a bit more comfortable integrating this color into your garden. See the photo at the bottom of the page for a Coleus close to the merlot shade.

An easy way to practice working with color combinations in small doses is in constructing your container gardens. When you are at the garden center, take a few yellow and purple flowers and see how they play together side by side. Once you feel more comfortable with this you can integrate combinations of what you like into the garden beds. There are many yellow and purple flowers to choose from so this is an easy way to start. I admit that my favorite complementary pair is red (and red-ish) and green. Since green is predominate in the garden already due to foliage, you’ve got that covered in the garden in a variety of ways already, you can move on to the red(ish) options. You might try a bright red glazed pot placed into the planting bed. Or you might try a Coleus like the one featured in the photo below. You might place a bright red Adirondack chair on the green expanse of lawn–you get the idea. The “Power Color” components do not have to come from plants but introducing them in the garden will help your garden be more lively.

Design Seeds is a great website you can reference for color pairings and combinations. I refer to it when designing container gardens, for flower arranging and for home decor. I even referenced it for help in designing the color choices for my business branding that you see at the top of the newsletter.

How are you coloring your garden this year? Post about it in the space below. 

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