Spring Colors: Cool as a Cucumber*

Can you imagine a world without color?

Not me!

There’s room in every garden for the full rainbow spectrum. In my post Some Like it Hot, I featured many of the vibrant red, orange and yellow hues of my garden.

The cooler range of a primary rainbow includes blue, green, indigo and violet. They’re also my favorites.

In addition to providing a cool and lovely contrast to the heat of the garden, the cooler colors serve an important purpose. Green of course is the very backbone of plant life.

Plants derive their green color from a pigment called chlorophyll, literally translated as “green leaf”. This allows the plant to draw light and energy to thrive.


While the bright flowers get center stage, green is working hard in the wings to keep the garden healthy and strong. Green leaves also serve as excellent camouflage for beneficial insects such as praying mantis. Earth tones of brown and grey, provide birds with cover from predators.

Purple, violet and blue-like blooms attract bees, hummingbirds, bluebirds, and jays. Perhaps I should add “and gardeners” as green and purple are my two favorite colors.


I recently learned that

Purple is common in plants, largely thanks to a group of chemicals called anthocyanins. When it comes to animals, however, purple is more difficult to produce.

Source, Natural History Museum

I read years ago that there is no real blue when it comes to flowers. According to Mother Nature Network

There is no true blue pigment in plants, so plants don’t have a direct way of making a blue color,” Lee said. “Blue is even more rare in foliage than it is in flowers.” he added. “Only a handful of understory tropical plants have truly blue foliage.

While I’m on the subject of cool colors, I forgot to let you know the answer to the quiz on my Hobbiton Movie set post. I posed the question, “which of the three trees picture below is a fake?” The answer is The Oak Tree

From the blog The Curious Kiwi

The large oak tree above Bilbo’s house was cut down and transported to Hobbiton where its branches were bolted back in place. Thousands of artificial leaves were wired to the branches, all for a few seconds of filming.

*Cool as a cucumber – Bloomsbury International. Extremely calm, relaxed and in control of your emotions. This phrase may have originated from the fact that even in hot weather, the inside of cucumbers are approximately 20 degrees cooler than the outside air.How cool is that?

46 thoughts on “Spring Colors: Cool as a Cucumber*

  1. You are always so informative. I love the mauves and purples and our Lilacs are blooming at the moment so we have plenty to look at. I would love a Wisteria but we’ve never had success with one yet.
    I’m surprised the FDA (Feline Drug Administration) haven’t been round yet and arrested Lindy and Mouse on suspicion of over consumption. They look a bit ‘out of it’ to me.


    • You made me laugh out loud, Lynn! FDA Ha!

      Lindy loves catnip, fresh and in toys. Mouse doesn’t appreciate the toys as much but he really loves to tuck in to the plant. Tessa is ambivalent. She’s sort of interested, but there are far too may distractions for it to hold her interest for very long.

      Lilacs are gorgeous! My friend Kelly has a large lilac bush in her front garden in Canada. They’re thirsty plants, so I’ve avoided getting one in our water-starved state. You probably don’t have to worry about that where you live.

      I’ve wanted a wisteria for years, but only planted one three years ago when we removed our diseased magnolia. Their are two gorgeous specimens growing in neighboring yards so I figured I would have good luck with one. So far so good.


  2. Another blue-flowered vine I love is petrea, with its rough-textured leaves and the crisp, delicate, papery flower tassel. I’m surprised to read there’s no true blue: I’d have thought that forget-me-nots were a pretty blue-blue! I think blue & purple flowers are among my favourites: irises, periwinkle, cornflowers, lilac, lavender… and so on.


    • That’s a list of my favorites too, Kate. I’m currently growing periwinkle (vinca minor), lavender and cornflowers. I used to have iris bulbs, but they met their demise during a landscape overhaul and I never got around to planting more. I’ll add that to my fall planting list. Lilic is gorgeous and nearly made it into my shopping cart a year or so back, but they’re water-loving so I’m trying to stay true to my goal of planting drought tolerant or native plants.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I’m with Kate on the ‘no true blue’ flowers. Forget-me-nots are a true blue and make a gorgeous display when seen en-masse in the wild. There’s that wonderful cornflower blue – though it does indeed have a purplish cast to it – it is still in the blue spectrum…… I know rose breeders have a hard time trying to make a blue rose. No-one has succeeded in that search yet I understand. Your photos of all the lovely shades of purples through lavenders to pinks are quite stunning – please add photographer extraordinaire to your portfolio!! The last anemone photo is my favourite 🙂 I didn’t realise you had a wisteria vine – isn’t it gorgeous ❤ I enjoyed seeing your red spectrum garden last post, but I personally enjoy this colour range even more!


    • Pauline, I knew you would love the colors in this post. Seeing all those purples together is uplifting and calming at the same time I think. The purple anemones are new this year. I hope they multiply. I’ve loved them.

      Thanks for your kinds words on my photography. A garden is a wonderful place to practice, with willing subjects swaying in the breeze.

      The wisteria vine took three years to get to this size so I may not have posted about it much before. I nursed along an infested tulip magnolia for years, only to have the scale and subsequent damage return year after year. I finally took it out and replaced it with the wisteria vine. The green trellis used to be in the back. It was the perfect size for the wisteria and has worked well to train it, while still allowing a path to the hose and watering cans.

      As for “true blue”, apparently the hue is a combination of reds and purples that appear blue, but are not truly blue pigment. I love forgot-me-nots and the cornflowers I have growing certainly appear to be blue as well. I guess it’s all in the the way the eye perceives color. Aren’t you glad we’re not color blind? How different the world must seem for people with limited color vision.

      Here’s a link if interested. I’ve always been intrigued by this phenomena: https://www.hunker.com/12000239/what-flowers-are-naturally-blue



  4. The flowers are beautiful, and you captured them so well! My husband does all the gardening around here (he’s German) so my only contribution is an herb garden that I grow from my deck. At least the deer don’t destroy my herbs.


  5. That purple just brightens my day; there’s something so energizing about that colour. It’s so funny Alys, but green and purple are my two favourite colours too! I even did my master bath in my first house in that colour scheme and just loved it. I have to admit that I was too curious to wait to find out which tree was fake; I had to look it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara, yet another fun thing to have in common! My sister loves purple, and has an accent wall in her bedroom painted in a beautiful shade. I love it!

      I’m glad you looked up the oak tree story. I had forgotten post the answer until my friend Kelly brought it up. Oops!


  6. They cut down a perfectly good tree to piece it back together again for one shot? Too sad, too sad. I’ve learned something new today and that makes me happy. Lots of new things actually but now I have a question. I have been given pods of preying mantis to hatch for the bugs out back. It’s warm enough now but I’ve heard they also eat humming birds. What to do, what to do? Your front garden with the LFL is so inviting as is your back garden but my favorite photos are of all the kitties sniffing and sleeping in your gardens. They look so happy there.


    • Marlene, I had the same reaction when they first told the story of the oak tree. If you’re going to go to such lengths to make an artificial tree, why not just go all the way? It’s hard to get that logic.

      I love watching the kittens enjoying the catnip/nepeta. Sometimes they’ll each take a turn in the same hour. I also bring in leaves, pinch them to release the oil and send Lindy to heaven and back with the scent. It’s so cute to watch. I’ve been giving sprigs to my neighbor as well for her kitties.

      It’s true that praying mantis will eat hummingbirds. I was horrified when I stumbled upon that fact. When I’ve spotted one, I relocate it away from the feeders to another part of the garden. That doesn’t stop them, of course from potentially catching one in the shrubs, but in all my years of gardening, we’ve managed to have them co-exhist.

      Perhaps you can look up what in your garden appeals most to the hummers, then put the PM eggs somewhere else.

      Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Somehow, after reading this I do feel cool as a cucumber. Seriously!
    The colors are serene and calming and lovely
    And your photography is wonderful!


    • Thank you, Laurie! These colors do have a calming effect. I’m surprised we don’t see more purple in design. I was tickled to learn what the “cool as a cucumber” phrase meant. It’s interesting how we can cool our body temperature just thinking about it! I miss you. Our holiday went by in a flash, though I’ve stored a lifetime of incredible memories.


  8. Your garden is beautiful, Alys. I love the colors. I have a lot of reds, yellows and oranges at the moment. That seems to have just happened. But now I want to get some more of these gorgeous cooler colors. They really draw me in. I find the colors very restful, which is a big plus. 🙂


    • Debra, I would have sworn I’ve responded to this comment twice. Either I’m losing my mind (not entirely impossible) or WordPress is eating my comments again. I’ll just leave a quick “thank you” and hope for the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have flower envy . . . .

    It’s all beautiful. The older I get the more I like my simple greens–the hostas and the firs and the shrubs. I don’t think I have one single purple plant, except maybe some of the hollyhock blossoms come in purple! Oh, and a pathetic rhododendron . . .


    • I’ve seen beautiful gardens made up entirely of greens. It’s amazing how much contrast you can get with just green. It’s such a calming color, too. In fact, my living room, entryway and home office are all painted a soft sage green. It’s warmer then many greens if that makes sense. I find it relaxing.


  10. Pingback: Hobbiton Movie Set: A Gardener’s Delight and a Movie-goer’s Dream – Gardening Nirvana

  11. My goodness. I feel like I’ve just had a master class in gardening! I had no idea about those beautiful blue hues — or that cucumbers really *do* stay cooler than the ambient air. But mostly it’s just a delight to revel in your beautiful photos and imagine what a peaceful oasis your garden must be …

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are always such a day-maker, Heide. Thank you for that. I’ve had so much fun grouping my garden photos into a color palette. It appeals to my organizing side, my love of color and of course my joy of gardening. I’m one lucky woman, gardening in the golden state. Will you have a patio garden this year in your new, I-don’t-have-to-mow-the-lawn-or-shovel-snow digs? xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are indeed a lucky woman — but not as lucky as everyone who is privileged to know you! ❤️ I do love how your love of organizing intersected with your love of gardening to create those lovely color groupings. Brilliant idea! My gardening ambitions are much more modest this year. I’ll probably put my little ficus forest out on the balcony once the frost threat is gone, but passed on having a garden bed this year because we still have a lot of small projects to do around the place (painting woodwork, placing baseboards, etc.). It’s OK, though — I’m surrounded by green thumbs in that building, so there’s never a lack of foliage or color! xx


        • Oh you! I’m blushing over here. Thank you for your kindnesses. So you have a forest of ficus, eh? That sounds grand. I only have one indoor ficus, and it took the brunt of Tessa’s kitten-hood. She delighted in digging up the soil. I can’t even remember how many barriers I erected to no avail. Ah well. I guess I can force myself to visit a garden nursery, you know, take one for the team and all. 😉

          It will be fun completing household projects, as I think each one contributes to making our houses our homes. We’re always doing something around here, although this weekend it extended to the category of silly: I made a little sign that says “kitty-loo” for my cat sandbox as part of my 30-day outdoor challenge. I had fun, but laughed at myself, too, knowing that I’m the only one that will see it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • HAHAHA! I *love* that you made a sign for the “kitty loo.” Sounds like a weekend well spent to me! 🙂 In fact, anything that brings you joy is time well spent, don’t you think?

            And yes … I do have a ficus forest. It’s a small grove of seven little trees that used to be bonsai. But the constant care they needed became a burden, and I eventually put them in a deep pot and let them just grow up to be ordinary houseplants. They seem quite happy in their new home, if I say so myself. 🙂


  12. Your neighbours are so lucky to have you and your garden view. I don’t think I’ve every seen your garden look so full and healthy! Is your Wisteria newish! Have you shown it b4? Was the infested Azalea there B4? Am I a cop? LOL….so many questions mam’…teehee xo ❤ I'm into the cool colours more than bright hot colours. With exception of the pinks or fuchsia colours. Remember those Dalia's at Butchart's? http://www.butchartgardens.com/blog/flower-and-garden-report-april-13th-april-19th/ I loved them all for the shape too, even red ones. So maybe it's anything in-mass, which is hard to achieve in our climate. Urg! This year we set a record, 162 days of below 32 F in a row. Early winter and late spring…but we're finally warming up. x K


    • “Are you a cop?” LOL. You always make me laugh! The wisteria is indeed on the newer side. I finally threw in the towel on the scale-infested magnolia. I just couldn’t get rid of the infestation, and as you know I tried and tried and tried. I also worried that it would eventually spread to our much larger magnolia tree. So far so good. We relocated the trellis from the back garden and it worked perfectly in that spot. It took two seasons for the wisteria to establish itself, but now it’s blooming all the way across the arch. It’s a short flowering season, but brilliant while it lasts.

      Thanks for the Butchart Garden link. What an extraordinary place and what fun we had!

      I can’t fathom 162 days of below-freezing temps. That’s brutal! I’m so glad to hear that spring is finally making a reliable appearance. Enjoy every minute of it. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds fun 😀 Thanks for inviting dear x It’d be a whole new garden I’m sure. Glad the blight hasn’t moved to the magnolia, that’s such a pretty tree. I can’t believe it’s May 1 tomorrow. Wow! I was re-carpeting the kitty tree today…so it must be spring, things are getting refreshed 😀 Toodles Noodles xo

        Liked by 1 person

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