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Adding Sunshine To The Garden – for Aug. 5, 2010

I find the study of colour to be interesting. Interior designers – and garden designers – use colour extensively to create moods and to achieve specific effects. Much research has been done about how people perceive colour and what effect certain colours have on our feelings. Industry, including the hospitality industry, uses this research to determine which colours enhance appetite, create a calming influence for sleeping areas, etc.

It is a fairly well-known fact that yellow is a cheerful colour. It is like a ray of sunshine and brings brightness to any location in which it is used. I remember years back it was a popular colour for kitchens to create that welcoming feeling. Yellow has that same effect in the garden.

It stands out from the crowd and so it is very useful in dim locations where its brightness will lighten the surroundings, seeming to bring more light into the space. It is an advancing colour and one of the “warm colours,” so it tends to make the object more up close and personal rather than distant, as a receding, cool colour might do. I am always amazed at how yellow – particularly bright yellow – immediately draws the eye toward it. When entering a garden, if there is a patch of bright-yellow bloom, that will be the first thing the eye will see. Therefore, yellow can be used effectively to create focal points in the garden, whether by using yellow flowers, golden foliage, or artifacts, such as an old chair painted a bright yellow.

What are some of the best plants that produce vibrant-yellow bloom? In the shade, tuberous begonias are hard to beat; a pot of these beauties located on a shaded veranda will be eye popping. In sunny locations in the garden, perennials, including various lily varieties – both tiger lilies and the Asiatics, produce prolific yellow blooms. Golden yarrow, including “Cloth of Gold,” also provides ample yellow flowers. Evening primrose is one of the most vibrant-yellow perennials, its single flowers opening to expose pure-yellow petals. In a more subdued fashion, creeping Jenny’s tiny yellow blooms which appear along the length of its long, trailing stems add bright spots of colour to hanging baskets or cascading over the edges of raised beds and stone walls.

Among the annuals, marigolds are the first to come to mind when yellow is mentioned. There are yellow varieties of both the large African marigolds and the petit French forms both of which are useful in containers as well as in the ground. Planted in clumps of several plants, tall yellow marigolds in a mixed border will create a stunning focal point. The fern-leaf tagates marigolds such as Lemon Gem with their myriad of tiny single flowers are wonderful plants to add some “sunshine” to containers and mixed borders.

Yellow foliage is also used to brighten the landscape and there are both flowering plants and shrubs with yellow foliage to serve this purpose. Lorraine Sunshine Heliopsis (false sunflower) is one of my favourite perennials, not only because of its golden-yellow flowers but also because of its gold and green variegated foliage. Hostas and some of the lysmachias also boast wonderful yellow foliage. Ninebarks, spireas, dogwoods and elders are just some of the shrubs whose yellow/ golden foliage will add warmth and light to the landscape.

If you want to bring a feeling of happiness and “a ray of sunshine” to your garden and make it welcoming and warm, add yellow. By choosing plants that produce yellow flowers or yellow/golden foliage or both, you can bring brightness to your garden that would be missing without the presence of this wonderful warm colour.

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Itislikearay ofsunshineand bringsbrightness toanylocationin whichitisused.

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