Monday, May 19, 2008

Bad Color Mixes

To be filed in the do not do category. We often buy plants which are past bloom or are sold with the wrong tag and end up unwittingly planting them next to others with the resultant color clash. Usually mother nature is able to somehow ameliorate the situation but sometimes the dissonance is so apparent that nothing can save the mistake. The following are a few examples of our color faux pas in the French sense and not gaffe in the English sense.

This first example is not too bad in my opinion but the hot pink of the Azalea somehow doesn't quite agree with the purple pink Rhododendron.

Ufff! Orange and purple.

Well how about adding red to the orange and purple! =:-(

Or purple orange and pink. There is a columbine under the orange mountain Azalea which has pink flowers too so this was altogether not an great arrangement. By the way, I am not colorblind.


Anonymous Pam/Digging said...

I enjoyed your confessional post. I've got a couple of poor color combos going on right now myself. But the one I absolutely couldn't stand and had to dig up ASAP was pomegranate's hot-orange flowers in the same vicinity as soft pink roses. Eek!

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Jan said...

I, too, have been frustrated with plants that are not in bloom and are mislabled. It seems to be happening more and more.

Always Growing

3:35 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Pam,
I would have loved to have seen your pomegranate and pink rose combo. ;)

Eeeek! is a good way to put it!

Unfortunately our plants have been in the ground for several years and are growing nicely so I hate to move them. The discordant notes last for about a month so we just live with the situation. We certainly are more careful when we plant now. Thanks for your comment.

3:41 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Jan,
I've experienced the same situation. We find a lot plants with no names or the tags have either fallen off or pulled out by customers. I guess the customers are either looking at the name of the variety or planting and zone requirements. If they are too lazy to put the tag or stick back in the pot, I can imagine a clueless employee just putting it back in any old pot. Even the securely attached tags don't guarantee you are buying the same plant described by the tag. I once bought a Magnolia which was supposed to be white with red interior but turned out to be a yellow one. I wasn't disappointed but it took about 4 years for it to bloom, too long for me to return it.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

The first one wasn't too bad, but then I literally gagged when I saw the lavender with the orange. It's great that you can laugh about it. Color mistakes with shrubs are so hard to fix.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Mr. McGregor's daughter,
I guess I really should do something with about that problem. I hate to try to move one of the plants because they are so well established, I would probably kill the plant if I tried to move it. The orange one is the offender here so it would be the one to go. Ah, what to do?

5:36 PM  
Blogger Les, Zone 8a said...

Yesterday at work I noticed that the hydrangeas were starting to bloom. The Sun Goddess has bright yellow foliage and the flowers on one were a very pale pink. It was so ugly, I almost had to cut the blooms off.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Yo! Les, I hope you don't come by our house :)

The hydrangea you mention does seem like it would be quite an ugly plant...a plant counterpart to the Chinese crested dog or hairless cat. I have almost the same reaction when I pass by a purple iris with white and light green striped leaves, everyday on the dog walk. We also have a variegated azalea with green white leaves but the flowers are red making it seem rather freakish when in bloom. Surely this must all be the work of well meaning propagators but as in art, not all are masterpieces.

6:46 PM  
Blogger kate smudges said...

I think I've maybe lost my colour sense or perhaps have been playing around with watercolours and collaging too much. I don't mind the orange and mauve combination. With the red, it is a bit over the top. I like clashing colours and a bit of chaos in the garden though ... but then I'm eccentric.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Maybe I've been hanging around with Kate a lot because I'm losing my dislike of these combinations in my own garden, Ki, and I used to be strict!

Two thoughts on this:
1) A combination that is way too much for the tender month of May could seem fine in August because we expect something else in spring.
2)Maybe the trouble with mixing azaleas [or chrysanthemums, or short zinnias, or marigolds or any flower that's a blob of color] is that the ball shape isn't spread out with lots of green around it.
Would you think it was pretty if your red, purple and orange azalea were replaced by pineapple sage, orange butterfly weed and a lavender purple crepe myrtle?

Of course with no azaleas here, it's easy to make fun of yours ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

2:01 PM  
Blogger DeeMom said...


I have been away from the PC for several days because our new puppies developed PARVO.
I did not want to post sad news, NOW there is POSITIVE NEWS on our Pups.

Now you know why I have not been to your blogsā€¦
We will take a few more days to recoup and then be back with hopefully fabulous pictures of the puppies looking soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better.

Happy Memorial Day to all have a extraordinary weekend with family and friends

2:49 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,

Since we are so jaded by lack of color in the winter, maybe we are not so offended by exuberant colors in spring. Of course the camera and photo, focus on a small portion of the garden but placed in proper perspective ... nah, it is still a riot of colors ;)

As far as eccentrics are concerned, they are much more interesting than the "normal" person and much admired by me. As our daughter's eccentric friend many years ago in high school (she was the only girl to wear dresses) put it so well, "only dead fish, go with the flow". Wonderful ego strength.


Aha! another rebel eh, Annie? Our well meaning objective of landscaping the yard immediately "went out the window" when plant collecting was much more fun than the sterile, static, immaculate look our neighbors have. Besides if I wanted that, I can just borrow their yard.

I agree with your #1. I expect to see those teensy woodland flowers in spring so when you're whopped between the eyes with something large and BRIGHT, that's not spring.

Right again with #2. The azaleas are pretty much covered with flowers with only a little greenery showing if any to attenuate the brightness. But since green is a complementary color to red and purple a complement to yellow the color combos in the photos appear even brighter that they normally would. were strict eh?

Thanks, Deemom.

I do hope your pups recover. I did a quick search and discovered that in spite of vaccinations some pups still contract parvo and die. Luckily non of our dogs have contracted parvo but we tend to adopt full grown dogs.

Happy Memorial day to you too ... just don't drive too far :)

6:09 PM  
Blogger Yolanda Elizabet said...

LOL, it is a relief to know you're not colourblind Ki. My eyes are still hurting from that orange and pink combo which is even worse than the ornage, red and purple one.

On my blog you can see a master painter at work using the right colour combinations.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all natural colours and joyous, in a bunch or in their own.

And I don't quite believe that you yourself dislike them as they are ;-)

As far as I can see there are only two hideous combo's in gardens: purple aubretia plus yellow forsythia ( and they are even supposed to be complementary on the colour wheel), and deep blue ceanothus with anything, or on its own.

Nor am I colour blind. Keep them as they are.


8:30 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

Ack! The purple and orange remind me of some awful high school band uniforms I saw one time...yikes. Ah well, live and learn, eh? :)

1:51 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Yolanda Elizabet,
It is interesting the objection to loud colors is in what context and the amount of color we view at one time. I've seen many paintings with hot and cooler colors of the same hue abutting but the visual discordance seems not as evident. Perhaps we have been conditioned to expect that in paintings but not in plantings?

Indeed there is a master at work in your beautiful garden! What I should have done was to keep the plants in a pot for the first blooming cycle so I would know the color of past bloom plants. But we planted hundreds of shrubs, trees and perennials in a span of a few years so some mistakes were inevitable. Trouble is, it is difficult to dig them up and replant them somewhere else once they became established. Thanks for your comment.


Hi Joco,
They do sock you in the eye. If they were somewhere in a dark corner of the backyard it wouldn't matter so much but the orange, lilac and red combo is right at the front entry of the house so we see is prominently displayed every time we leave or enter the house. Fortunately the orange tree azalea has dropped most of the flowers now so the cooler red and lilac does not produce quite as discordant a note.

Complementary colors don't necessarily mean that they go well with each other and is often confused with complimentary. What is meant by complementary (forming a whole) is when placed next to each other they seem to be even brighter/stronger than when seen with other colors, i.e. red and green; the reds seem redder next to green and the green seems greener next to any red. Your purple, yellow example is a good one. So complementary is perhaps an ill chosen word to describe those colors because it is easily confused with complimentary. Perhaps "intensifier" or something on that vein would have been more appropriate. Alright off the didactic soapbox now. Thanks for stopping by.

Hey Lisa,
Now I won't be able to get the image of marching band uniforms out of my head when seeing those flowers! Thanks! :) In particular a purple and yellow uniform seems to be imprinted in my mind. Unfortunately my mistake is repeated every year like a bad dream ;)

4:17 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

Aww, sorry about that! Maybe you could put some kitschy little statue next to all that stuff when it blooms, so it looks like it was on purpose. Maybe a clown or gnome or funhouse? ;-)

7:51 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Well each color on its own does look lovely. I think part of it may be lighting, in the tropics the hot colors look great together, esp as the skies are so blue. Ive noticed how unfortunate hot color combinations can look in the much duller light of San Francisco.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

I know just the thing Lisa. I'll make a cutout drum major out of thin plywood, strutting her/his stuff and paint it purple with yellow piping! That should do the trick :) How better to greet guests at the front entry?


Hi Nicole,
I believe you're right. We are conditioned to expect bright colors in the tropics but not in New Jersey ;) Our house is quite a sight especially in this staid neighborhood. Most of the homes have evergreens gracing the perimeter of their houses. So you have green, green, riot of colors, green, green ad nauseum.

Interesting, your observation about colors in S.F. Perhaps it's the fog which makes the colors less vibrant?

7:39 PM  
Blogger joey said...

Don't be so hard on yourself, Ki. You have a great eye and keen sense of humor.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Joey,
I have the collector's fervor for the unusual but not so good in the landscaping department ;(

It is interesting that I am not a particularly humorous person normally. I think blogging has brought out that aspect in me mainly in the comments ... a bit. I see some blogs with just facts laid out but with Google searches and Wikipedia etc. all that information is avail. by just entering a word or two. I find I read wacky, photogenic or unusual plant blogs the most and humor seems to make the read much more personable and fun to read. I remember thinking about this a couple of years ago. I guess I unconsciously took it to heart.

As always, thanks for your lovely comments.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Stefan said...

Good Job!: )

4:20 AM  

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