Sunday, October 29, 2006

Such a Thing as Too Much Red?

I really like red. I color my hair red, wear red clothes, and drive a red car. There is no shortage of red in my garden. It is one of my favorite colors.

When I consider fall color, red, again, comes to mind. I disregard fall foliage color described as yellow, pale green, or *ugh* brown. I want scarlet, maroon, and flame. While Mike and I vacationed in Gatlinburg, I repeatedly stopped to stare at backlit vermillion leaves. However, gazing at the multicolored hillsides, it began to occur to me that what made the red so beautiful was its juxtaposition against the yellows, greens, and *ugh* browns.

Quite coincidentally, while soaking in the outdoor hot tub one morning at our Gatlinburg chalet, I came across the chapter in Henry Mitchell’s Essential Earthman on color in the garden. He paints verbal picture of a garden with nothing but red flowers in “Red, Red, and Still More Red”. Initially, it sounds as if it might be a carmine lover’s dream, but the result rather resembles a slaughterhouse. As much as I adore red, it is best used as an accent color, rather than a base. (At least, outside. Red is the primary color in our bedroom, with accents of gold, brown, and cream.)

Gatlinburg seemed to be a bit ahead of Cincinnati on fall color, but our show is heating up now. As my euonymous, viburnum, and dogwood begin their flaming displays, I am enjoying their contrast against the surrounding foliage, rather than wishing everything was similarly ablaze. Next time I read that a plant I’m considering has fall color in a shade other than red, I’ll consider it. I could use more yellow and orange fall foliage, but you can keep the *ugh* brown.


Blogger Renee said...

If you have room for a smallish shrub, Fothergilla has glorious fall color -- usually a blend of red, yellow, and shades in between. 'Mount Airy' is a naturally occurring hybrid that was discovered here in Cincinnati. In spring, the white bottlebrush flowers smell like honey... And then the shrub becomes nice wallpaper for perennials and annuals for the summer.

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Coincidentally, *ugh* brown is what I call the color of my eyes.

The Smokies are gorgeous. Gatlinburg itself, however, gives me hives and I've only driven through it.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I recently read that chapter in Earthman, too. I love red, but I thought it was pretty funny when he said you shouldn't have any friends with weak hearts visit your all-red garden when it's in full bloom :-) I was just glad he didn't totally rip red---some garden writers do that, and it drives me nuts.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Ack! We don't call it "coloring our hair red" - we call it "correcting an obvious mistake on the part of mother nature." We really were meant to have red hair, that's why mother nature gave us henna.

11:04 AM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

My "too much" color is pink. I won't wear it and I won't have it in my house, but my gardens are filled with it. I keep having to remind myself to plant other colors because most of my existing plantings are pink.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Garden Decor Guy said...

As usual, you have a nice way of explaining the Yin and Yang of things and how both are needed. Your description of the beauty of red against the "yellows, greens, and *ugh* browns" is a case in point.

7:23 AM  

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