Spring Colors: Cool as a Cucumber*

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?

Purple Garden Palooza

garden triangle may

Purple garden palooza

Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but I’m picking purple petals from my perfect garden. It’s a purple palooza.

Ha! Say that three times.

The small corner garden near the walkway to our door looks like royalty. It’s awash in three shades of purple, with dots of orange and green accents. Last year’s sweet peas re-seeded and came back in a royal flush.

sweet peas

Sweet peas

sweet pea flower gives way to seed

Sweet pea flowers give way to seed pods

They’re in good company too. Love-in-a-Mist scattered seeds everywhere and now lines the sidewalk in a purple haze. Pay no attention to the dying grass in the background. The lawn is on its way out.

love in a mist lining the sidewalk

Self-seeding love-in-a-mist line the walkway

The Statice flowered early this year, showing pearly white blooms in the center of the calyx.  I love the way they compliment each other.

statice with flowers

Statice: calyx and flowers

One California poppy grows at the edge, but I fear a dog is lifting its leg once a day as the foliage is looking a bit…tired. The plant is still hanging in there though. Go Team Violet! Go state flower!

california poppy

California poppy wrapped up for the night

love in a mist closeup

Love-in-a-mist blooms and seed pods

Things you many not know:

(I didn’t)

The word ‘purple’ comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from the Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura), name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity from a mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail.-Wikipedia

Today, science has revealed much more about purple than our ancestors ever realized: Purple is the most powerful visible wavelength of electromagnetic energy. It’s just a few steps away from x-rays and gamma rays. – Color Matters

The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning. Lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are considered delicate and precious. –Bourn Creative

The Color Purple

It’s everywhere. Purple that is.

Love in the mist

Love-in-the-Mist gathers morning dew

Growing up, my sister claimed purple as her favorite color. To this day it remains unchanged. I’ve always loved green, with blue and purple a close second.  In the garden, I like them all.

When our oldest son was old enough to express an opinion, he declared orange as his favorite. My husband loves blue and my good friend, Kristi, loves red, so he assumed only one person could have the same favorite color. He declared that his yet-to-be-born younger brother would favor yellow.

We watched closely as the little one developed his own taste, secretly hoping it might be yellow. That would be a fun story for the family archives.  Alas, the color blue won the day, though the story still makes me smile.

What’s your favorite color?

bachelor button

Bachelor Button

catnip flower

Catnip

garden rainbow

Garden Rainbow: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet

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Mystery Solved: Love-in-a-mist

Pauline noted that ‘every garden needs a bit of mystery’ but for now I’m happy to have this one solved.  I posted this photo last week, and asked for help identifying it. Extensive Google searches were no help.

mystery flower

Mystery flower

Three cheers for my blogging community! Cathy of Words and Herbs thought it might be ‘Nigella.’ Anne of Anne Lawson suggested ‘love-in-a-mist.’  They’re both right.

These wonderful, self seeded flowers are Nigella damascena – Love-in-a-Mist.   Thank you both.

purple love-in-a-mist

Nigella damascena in bloom and going to seed

buds and bloom

Buds and Blooms

California Avocado Cupcakes

Over the weekend I sampled a delicious avocado cupcake at Sunset Celebration Weekend.  I meant to share it with you yesterday. The cupcake and the frosting both contain avocados as a healthy fat alternative.  You can download the recipe at the California Avocado Commission. Please let me know if you give them a try.

Mexican Sage: Low Maintenence Wonder

salvia with bee

Bees are good for the planet

Not everything in the garden takes work.  As flowering plants go, Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is a low-maintenance wonder. This glorious specimen lives at the curb.  I bought it for five dollars a decade ago, planted it in a spot without any irrigation, and within a short period of time it tripled in size.

Year after year, it produces glorious purple flowers.  The bees love it and so do the hummingbirds.  It’s also a favorite of a few little girls on the block.  I gave one of them permission several years ago to help herself to a few blooms on her walk.  I appreciated her interest and her lovely manners.  She asked first.

Salvia Leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage)

Salvia Leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage)

Of course you can’t please everyone.  The water meter-reader left a grumpy note one year asking me to “clear the shrubbery” so he could do his work.  The sage is so soft that you can push it aside, or snap off a few twigs.  Perhaps he was just having a bad day.  Early this year, I removed a few lower limbs, knowing it would fill out completely by early fall.  That did the trick.  The plant is full and lush, but the lower branches float above the water meter.

salvia water meter

Water Meter, clear for the reading

salvia leucantha

Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees

vibrant purple

Vibrant purple, soft to touch

Last year my sister dressed up for Halloween as the Corpse Bride from the Tim Burton movie of the same name.  I picked several branches of sage and wrapped them into a headband for her costume.  Once dried, they were a perfect addition to the headpiece.  Her friend Kim designed her makeup and together we created her costume.

Salvia crown

Corpse Bride

Why plant a Mexican Sage:

  • Drought tolerant
  • Low maintenance
  • Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees
  • Soft as velvet with vibrant color
  • Show-stopping beauty
  • Looks great on a costume

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Garden Bulbs: Putting on a Show

Today, I was ready! I’ve been enjoying these beautiful tulips putting on a show and wanted to share them with you. I kept missing the chance to grab a picture of their buttery centers. The tulips start to ‘disrobe’ around mid-day, usually when I’m gone. They’re wrapped up snugly first thing in the morning and again by dusk. Aren’t they something?

Tulip opens up

Tulip opens up

three tulips

Trio of Beauties

Petite and purple crocus broke ground this week, blooming with sporty stripes and tailored leaves to match They’re small put powerful, and once established, appear year after year. I planted crocus in several pots and as a border under the Acer and around the steps. Next year I’ll be far more adventurous, planting in greater volume. They’re magnificent!

Purple crocus

Purple Crocus with Lemony Centers

This lovely should burst on the scene tomorrow, just in time for Blooming Thursday. (No pressure, little flower.)

Tomorrow's promise

Tomorrow’s promise

I’ll close with this luscious number. I don’t remember planting it and don’t know what it is. Suggestions welcome.

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September Treats: A Little of This and That

purple flower polka dot plant

Tiny purple blooms dot the Polka Dot plant

My garden’s been busy over the weekend. In just 24 hours, the Pink Polka Dot plant produced several flowers.  I didn’t know the plant would actually bloom.  All plants have a flower and a fruit, but many are subtle and therefore go unnoticed. Tiny purple flowers dot the plant.  They’re quite small, no bigger than a centimeter, but they look vibrant against the mostly pink and green backdrop of the spotted leaves.  What a fun discovery.

yellow daisy like flower

Three cheers for yellow!!!

Also growing in one of the pots is a fresh, yellow daisy or daisy-like flower.  It’s another surprise from the packet of wildflowers planted in early spring. Every few weeks, a new flower appears. Today’s gorgeous bloom is as bright as a sunflower, but smaller in size. Yellow flowers are the garden cheerleaders: upbeat and sunny.

In that same pot, one or two fuchsia cosmos remain, a nice backdrop for the hummingbirds darting in and out at the feeder.

bird house gourd

Bowling-pin Gourd

I smiled when I rounded the corner of the trellis and saw a rapidly growing birdhouse gourd still thriving on the vine.  Most of the early fruit was small, but this latest gourd is growing at break-neck speed.  In its present form, it reminds me of a bowling pin.  Several smaller gourds grew up the trellis to the side of the house and they now hang below the eaves like a string of Christmas lights. Every time I see them I get a good giggle.

Tomorrow is October 1st with a projected temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit  (34 degrees Celsius). Crazy weather!  I’m starting my Halloween countdown in earnest tomorrow, featuring something seasonal daily.  Stay tuned.

I love October!  How about you?

cosmo and hummer

Cosmo and Hummingbird
Beauty Times Two

Christmas light gourds

Who needs to hang Christmas lights?