Right now, before the tulips blossom and the flowers, plants and azaleas begin to unfold, you may be yearning a bit of color to vivify a late-winter scenery. With a bit of arrangement and inspiration, garden aficionados say, you can adore color out there all year.
True, winter’s color won’t have the same enthusiasm as we enjoy spring concluded fall, but when you take an all-inclusive approach to wily your garden spaces — or as author Nellie Neal describes it, looking at it from the top down — every season can offer something to enjoy in your scenery.
“Whatsoever that propels you through the year is significant,” says Neal, whose book “The Nonstop Color Garden” was published last year by Cool Springs Press. Early now, here are thoughts that can make the color view out in all seasons.
Spring Garden Colors
This is an easy season because the color is everywhere in the scenery, beginning with the spring-flowering corms, flowering trees and plants, and strong through the early-spring wildflowers, the azaleas and irises, and peonies.
As you plan your own garden design, consider the ways colors work together and against each other in the scenery, and choose plants for their compatible colors and bloom times. Don’t stop with the flowers, though. Consider the soft green of emerging leaves, the interesting shades of the trunks of birch trees or the peeling bark of crape myrtles — that’s her “top-down” philosophy.
Favorite Colors for Summer
Shots of summer color come from annuals, too. “It’s hard to name a favorite, but there is so much joy in zinnias,” Neal says. “They’re the perfect array of colors for a garden in summer.”
One other important use of color in a garden all year: to attract pollinators to the scenery. “If you’ve got something in bloom all the time, the pollinators you have will find it,” she says.
Fall Garden Palette
Late summer into fall displays a different palette. Weakley, at the Perpetual Plant Society, notes the chrysanthemums and asters adding their color notes to the scenery along with the varying leaves.
Neal notes that there is a cadence to the gardening year, and following the cadence allows you to plan for the colors and recipes as they develop.
Neal notes that “The Nonstop Color Garden” is written for a national audience, not just for our region. “You may not live where one particular plant blooms, but you will find something in the plant profile that will work in any part of the country.”
Winter’s Enchanting Shades
Winter is not only the most overlooked season in the garden, but it’s the time we really need something interesting out there,” Neal says. “In the wintertime, everybody needs a bit to look at. And we don’t plan for that. We don’t think about it at the beginning of the garden process.”
Winter interest relies on garden design and plant choices more than on what can be in blossom when it’s cold. “You see where the color is and isn’t,” she says. “It inspires you to expand your pigment palette.”
The pigment doesn’t always have to come from flowers. Paint can be a gardener’s friend to provide bright shades in the scenery all year.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a pergola, the natural wood is a beautiful pigment, but it would also be wonderful to look out all year and see a pigment you love.”
When you plan for year-round color, take all things into consideration, from the trees down to the ground cover.
Choose Your Color
Many landscapers see what they like in books, magazines and orchard tours, but don’t know how to decipher the ideas into their own space. That may be particularly true with color choices, and you may count on on a color wheel to define complementary plant or paint selections.
“It is true there is a rainbow of colors, but everybody has something that makes their heart sing,” says Nellie Neal. “And whatever it is — pink, orange, bright blaring red — it’s the color that gives you pleasure.”
It’s easy to figure out what that color is. “Just close your eyes and you’ll see it,” she says. “You might build at least one picture in the lawn around that.”
In the end, though, your garden is your personal statement.
“You don’t need the color wheel. You just need your eyes and your heart, and make what carols to you.”