Color Commentary

When summer heats up, flowers burst open. Perennials and shrubs are flowering, but Evansvillians also incorporate many annual flowers that won’t grow on a year-round basis in our climate. Plus, if ground space is minimal, annuals work great in containers on patios or front entries. For these reasons, it is possible to think summer is the most colorful season in the garden, and though we buy annuals, numerous options allow the other seasons to show color.
The actual color you work into your garden is personal preference. Whether using a mix of colors or simply one or two colors, spreading colors and textures throughout the garden draws the eye to the different areas.

Think about how each plant will act in the various seasons to plan for the succession of color throughout the year. With a base of trees, shrubs, and perennials that are colorful all year, it is easy to pop in additional color with spring bulbs and summer annuals.

Springtime begins with clusters of stringy yellow witch hazel. Once they bloom, azaleas, fothergilla, and lilacs follow. To fill in larger areas, pansies and flower bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and crocuses burst with color.

In our part of the world, we have an amazing display of fall colors on the trees that people in other regions don’t experience. It reminds me of an old TV commercial in which the trees were like fireworks exploding with color. Trees and shrubs in the fall can put on a show, and a tree’s fall color should be considered when picking a plant for your yard. Mums, kale, and cabbage also add color to the fall landscape.

Winters can be long and boring, but many plants give the long winter months pops of color. Obvious choices are evergreen plants such as holly, yews, and boxwoods. A variety of chamaecyparis adds a whimsical touch to the garden. Rhododendrons and a few types of viburnums hold their leaves throughout winter. To add other accents of color, I look to twig and berry colors; red twig dogwood is an apt description. Berries come in many colors: from the red or yellow winterberry to bayberry with a bluish berry to beautyberry’s shining purple. 

Brian Wildeman is a graduate of Purdue University’s Landscape Horticulture and Design program. He is a designer with Landscapes by Dallas Foster, Inc.

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