Create a garden full of color

It might seem to be a strange time of year to discuss color in
the garden. But renown television garden personality P. Allen Smith
devoted a talk about

Color in the Garden

to members of the Garden Writers Association at their annual
symposium this past fall in Chicago.
It might seem to be a strange time of year to discuss color in the garden. But renown television garden personality P. Allen Smith devoted a talk about “Color in the Garden” to members of the Garden Writers Association at their annual symposium this past fall in Chicago.

Allen, as he prefers to be called, is a good ol’ Southern boy, who has a horticulture degree from (of all places) the University of Manchester in England. Having grown up working at a family nursery in Tennessee, Allen has made good with his syndicated garden show. At the garden writers’ symposium, he spoke to some 500 garden columnists, photographers and horticulture trade people from across the U.S.

Allen cited several color trends to look for in 2004. For one, he said home gardeners are always looking for ways to use more color in the garden. One way, according to Allen, is greater use of seasonal color. This time of year, for example, you can still have plenty of garden color through the use of winter bedding plants.

“Don’t just shop for bedding plants in the spring,” he said. “There is flower color available throughout the seasons. Gardening, particularly color in the garden, should be a 12-month activity.”

Winter bedding plants for our area include pansies, violas, snapdragons, stock, Iceland poppies, calendula, primroses, primula, cyclamen and more. All are readily available at local garden centers. All will survive frost, and bloom well into early summer if planted anytime in the next couple months.

When using seasonal color, consider taking advantage of planting in containers and also possibly using only one or two flower colors in a bold way. “Get ideas from large botanical or commercial gardens,” Allen advises. “You don’t often see a large garden in a commercial setting with mixed colors. Usually there’re only one or two colors in a color scheme.”

Through the use of containers, home gardeners can also brighten their garden, and put the flower color right where they want it, such as the front porch or back patio. Another trend Allen sees is the bolder use of color in containers. “Brightly colored glazed accessories are gaining popularity,” he says. “I’ve seen bright blue glazed containers and painted rod iron fences in bold colors. You can even paint hanging plastic containers.”

Consider clustering three to five planted containers together on a patio or porch. You might even try “exterior color decorating.” This is just a fancy term for matching or blending the exterior color of your house to flower colors.

Allen went on to talk about extending your garden into individual garden “rooms.” We’ll continue that topic next week. In the meantime, P. Allen Smith’s web site gets a million hits a week. Take a look at it at: http://pallensmith.com.

Keith Muraoka lives and works in Gilroy. E-mail him at [email protected]

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