The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Colour planning of the garden by George F Tinley, Thomas Humphreys and Walter Irving (London, 1924)

August color planning

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Of late years we have learnt better ways of arranging flower borders for colour effect. Formerly a border was planted according to the heights of plants - only; tall at the back, short in the front, and those of intermediate height in the middle, and they were placed, not only without any regard to colour combination, but in single plants, so that the whole effect was like a patchwork of small pieces indiscriminately dotted about. It is a good plan, before planting, to settle on a definite scheme; and one that can be recommended is to keep. flowers of tender colouring at the ends of a border and to work gradually towards. a grand effect of gorgeous colouring in the middle of the length. There is one thing to be noted, that whereas all the strong, warm colours, deep yellow, orange~ scarlet, crimson, and any deeper kinds of rich colouring are best suited for a. gradual progression of intermingling shades, the cool colours, and pure blue - especially, demand a contrast. This being so, it is convenient, in arranging a long border, to have the blues at one end and the purples at the other. When in these notes blue is mentioned it is to be understood that a true pure blue is meant, not any of the cool purple or violet colourings such as are so frequent in, for instance, Asters and Campanulas, and that are so often miscalled blue. Thus, at the blue end, the border will begin with Delphinium and Anchusa, enough of each to make a good show, for the true blues are not too many. Farther forward there will be the shorter Hybrid Deiphiniums and the beautiful still dwarf er D. Belladonna and Commelina coelestis, with Salvia patens dropped in for the summer. At the front will be the pretty Cape Daisy, Agathea coelestis, and the bright little Lobelia Erinus. A strong plant of Clematis Flammula is at the back of the Delphiniums; when their bloom is over, the fast-growing seed-pods are cut away and the white-flowered Clematis is trained over the Delphinium stems which now stand between four and five feet high. Here at the back are also white Dahlias and creamy Spiraeas and tall Snapdragons of palest yellow, half-way between yellow and white. Pure pale yellow Snapdragons are delightful with the blue flowers. Following this comes a beautiful combination near, and at the front, some yards in length, of the old garden plant, Mentha rotundifolia, whose leaves are variegated with warm white, with the warm white striped grass Glyceria aquatica; and at the back of these the fine old pure canary yellow Calceolaria amplexicaulis. Now there are yellow Hollyhocks and yellow Dahlias at the back and the tall yellow Thalictrum flavum; even a bush of the brightly gold variegated Privet is not out of place. Next we come to the region of the stronger yellows; Helenium pumilum in a large, important drift and cEnothera of the fruticosa section, leading to the orange colourings of Helianthus and Coreopsis lanceolata, and the still deeper orange African Marigolds. Dwarf Tropaeolums and orange Pot Marigold and Gazania are now in front, with Tritomas in the middle spaces and towards the back, and Dahlias of deepest - orange colour approaching scarlet. Then we come to actual scarlet and rich blood red of Dahlia and Hollyhock, with a softening setting of the annual Atriplex hortensis. Here also are the brightest scarlet Phioxes, Pentstemons, and Gladioli, and in front a dozen or so of the grand bedding Geranium, Paul Crampel. The whole of this region of gorgeous colouring is softened and tempered by an interplanting of deep reddish foliage�Iresine, the Atriplex just mentioned, and among the red Dahlias at the back, the red-leaved Ricinus Gibsonii, and some bushes of Prunus Pissardii, yearly pruned so that the deep reddish shoots may accompany the Dahlias and provide something that tones �well with the whole gorgeous mass, and that is better than the dull green of the �Dahlia foliage. At the back of the Dahlias is a tall old kind of a blackish crimson colour, and the blood-red Hollyhocks also have a companion of the same deep claret tint. The strong colour then passes again through orange and full yellow to white, with palest green foliage. Here are white Dahlias and white Everlasting Pea and foliage of striped Maize, and then a group of pink Hollyhock. After this the accompanying foliage is mostly grey�Cineraria mantima, Santolina, and Stachys; the colour passes from pink to mauve and on to the strong light purple of Aster acnis. Echinops and Erigeron are grouped with the white of Chrysanthemum maximum and Paris Daisy, and white and pink Gladioli, and these are backed by taller purple Asters, white Dahlias, white Hollyhocks, and the creamy white of Aster umbellatus. Here also, at the end are some tall Yuccas, Yucca gloriosa and Yucca recurva, with the lower-growing Yucca filamentosa; all with a deeply dusky background of Yew which comes forward from the high wall that is at the back of the whole border. The flowers on the wall agree in colour with those in the border. The grey-blue of Ceanothus, Gboire de Versailles, tones in with the flowers at the blue end; then comes the white of Laurustinus lucidus and of Japan Privet, with dark foliage of Bay backing the yellow group. Where the mass of strong colour comes in the middle there is a Fuchsia Riccartonii with the showy orange-scarlet trumpets of Bignonia radicans, while the pink and purple at the farther end are accompanied by the pink of Robinia hispida and Clerodendron foetidum, and the purple of Buddleia Veitchii. The same general rule of colouring is followed in a separate garden set apart for the better use of the tender things formerly known as bedding plants, including some already named in the flower border. But here in the brightest part there are more Geraniums, toning away to right and left from strongest vermilion to palest pink, and Cannas and a host of Snapdragons, with again Dahlias, Gladioli, and Pentstemons. But at one end of this garden, forming a background to the whole, there are raised banks of grey and glaucous foliage�Yuccas, Phormium, Senecio Greyi, Cineraria maritima, Euphorbia, Othonnopsis, and Cerastium, with pink and purple flowers only. This combination of grey foliage with pink and purple flowers is so important that a whole double border may well be given to it. Such a border is in existence, and is every year a source of greater pleasure. Here are bold clumps of tall pink Hollyhocks and tumbling masses of Clematis Jackmannii, the shrubby pink-flowered Lavatera Olbia, a lavender-coloured Ceanothus trimmed to bush form, Echinops, purple and white China Asters, Ageratum tall and dwarf, the mist-like Gypsophila, a fine purple form of the annual Delphinium consolida, and another valuable annual, the double pink Godetia, with tall white and palest pink Snapdragons. All these, with the silvery Eryngium giganteum and a plentiful filling of Cinerania manitima, Santolina, and Stachs lanata, form a most satisfactory picture of good garden colour in and about the month of August.