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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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"Heaven Knows Anything Goes": Coral Pink and Lemon Yellow in the English-Style Flowerbed.

Forground right:Itoh Peony Bartzella. Center and left: Rainbow Knock Out Rose - more coral than pink in the summertime. Far back right: Rose Carefree Wonder..

Coral pink is a very warm, almost hot, color. It never was part of the master plan in my head when I planted the front walkway English-inspired garden.

When it was first introduced, the hype about Rainbow Knock Out Rose was as intense as the coral pink color of its petals. Then, its subsequent performance in my test garden was so awe-inspiring – yes, gardeners do feel awe when a plant out-performs its expectations – I just had to transplant it into the front yard flowerbed.

It can be frustrating for some gardeners to know that an uber-beautiful plant is flourishing in an unseen back yard garden. I prefer to admire such plants as I exit and enter the front door of my home.

Then, only a year after the coral pink rose was moved to the front garden, I acquired Bartzella. The most convenient spot to plant this magnificent yellow Itoh peony was two feet away from Rainbow Knock Out.

In a short while, both plants grew exponentially as they literally reached out to touch each other. That’s how a new, unplanned color combination, one that I never thought appropriate for my English-inspired flowerbed, came to dominate the early summer palette of the front garden.

To my pleasant surprise, this coral pink and lemon yellow composition appeared very pleasing to the eyes, especially with the long view of the grey stone house façade in the background. It should not have been a surprise. After all, the peony is yellow, albeit a cold yellow, and coral pink contains pigments of yellow.

Although the added vibrancy of this color combination upset the cool balance of the flowerbed, it ushered in a new approach to coloring the garden.  In time, the warm color palette would become my inspiration to increase the intensity of tones of future flowerbeds. This change of heart coincided conveniently with increasing requests from clients for me to use bolder colors.

What an evolution this has turned out to be! At the outset of my gardening experience, I adhered to emulating the British palette of polite, cool pastel shades. Now, I am comfortable using brassy color combinations that some might consider clearly American in spirit.

As long as the tones of a home’s façade can accommodate hot colors, there is no longer any protocol preventing gardeners from using them. As time goes on, rules about the aesthetics of garden composition – especially in North America – evolve or change. In some communities, they have been  discarded altogether.

Now, courageous homeowners plant for their personal pleasure; often to the dismay of their more conservative neighbors. As the lyrics of a Cole Porter song recount, now heaven knows, anything goes.

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Reader Comments (7)

It looks pretty fantastic, Allan -- wish I could enlarge the picture for a closer look. The red tones in the centre of the peony also help to marry the colours together.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelen at Toronto Gardens

I'm guilty of generally staying to a fairly "subdued" least in comparison to the bright colors so popular now...but I say, whatever makes you happy, Go For It!

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott Weber

I think adding some Goldflame spiraea would be a nice touch, lol!

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul at Garden Muses

I was given Bartzella earlier this year for my birthday. At least, I hope it's the real thing. It was a tiny slip of a plant from a big box store, and I think it will be a couple of years before it blooms. It is strange to think of there ever being a "protocol" concerning color in a garden. I remember reading Elisabeth Sheldon's The Flamboyant Garden rather amazed that she thought this such a daring thing, or that she felt the need to enclose such colors with a fence to keep them hidden from view. But then, I grew up with marigolds and perhaps a zinnia or two. My grandmother had hostas, my other grandmother had a peony or two, but other than that, I can't remember anyone growing herbaceous perennials.

Can't Canadians be brassy? What a compliment to America :-).

Up until recently, it was apparent that Canadian color choices were influenced by our conservative British heritage. Now, with globalization, I'm not sure that such a disparity will continue.

November 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterAllan

What a lovely color combo. It's certainly nothing I thought of trying. It does stir me to do something more adventuresome.

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane C

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