Color in the Garden: In the Pink

 When we moved into our current house, we realized pretty quickly that the previous owners had especially liked pink and purple. And what's not to like? It's a bright, cheerful color, and it's easy to find pink plant. The only problem: For the color snob, pink goes with pink and purple (and white) but does not look so great with orange, yellow, and blue. I therefore decided to have a pink area in the garden where all the pink plants would harmonize happily and cheerfully (and not create havoc with the blue & yellow color scheme in other areas of the garden).

It all started with Mr. Previous Owner's Leptospermum (tea tree) an Australian native that is  drought tolerant, blooms profusely for a long time, and is popular with insects and birds. My tea tree is easily 8 feet by 6 feet, and I have to prune it at least once a year. But it's all worth it for the beautiful blossoms.

A Lorapetalum, from China and a little greedier for water, also blooms pink in February/March.

As a complement, I planted two Sidlacea malviflora (checkerbloom), a California native perennial that bloomed from October through April, and looked good with the tea tree close by.

But I knew I'd really be in the pink in May, when the Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant clarkia) would start blooming. And it's been a feast for the eyes and well worth the trouble with the seedlings.

I can hardly believe my luck. I started with a packet of seeds, and now I have beautiful flowers in different shades of pink, purple, and salmon.

They are 3-4 feet tall and bloom for at least six weeks. I hope they'll reseed, but will collect some seeds just in case (many plants have trouble coming through the mulch).

A little later, Clarkia amoena (farewell to spring) started to bloom. It bought the seeds from a regular vendor (not a native plant vendor), and they are of a vigorous hybrid that reseeds readily. Fortunately, I don't live near wildlands like Country Mouse, so it's not a big problem that I don't have the locally native variety.

The flowers are easily 2 inches across, and I enjoy the show from late May into July.

For July and August, I'm counting on Eriogonum grande rubescens to keep me in the pink. Here's a photo from last year.

I also planted a Cercis occidentalis (California redbud), which I'll try to keep as a smallish bush, and added some Yarrow 'Paprika,' not quite a native, but a close relative and a big attraction with the bee and butterfly crowd. And I just started to see the first blossoms of Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy).

Are you impressed now, dear reader? Well, don't be too impressed. I also added Delphinium cardinale (scarlet larkspur), a southern California native that had, as yet, never bloomed in my garden, to the pink corner. I was thinking of the purple Catholic cardinals wear and thought it would all work out.

Mmm. It ended up being precisely the color combination I had tried to avoid.

But then again, isn't that Delphinium one amazing plant? Easily five feet tall, with big green blossoms. -- Can't argue with a plant like that.


ryan said…
I like red better than pink, but I find myself planting a lot of pink bloomers, including a lot of the ones you have in this post, for other reasons such as habitat value or reliability or the fact that they really seem to harmonize well like you say. Reds are hard to utilize. That Delphinium cardinale is a plant I like, but it seems to always clash with the other flowers.
debsgarden said…
Your garden is lovely, and I love your clarkia! I really like pink and purple flowers, and I especially like them paired with silver, blue-green, or variegated foliage.
Oh I don't know. I think a SPLASH of contrast is always exciting!

Your garden is lovely.

By the way...Christine over at Idora Design and I were kicking around the idea of getting the garden bloggers in the greater Bay Area together for a little shindig. You could all come over to my house, eat some food, and cluck you tongues at the huge amounts of work I have yet to do. What do you think?
I like your little calm, warm pink garden. You really start to notice how different something described as "pink" can be. In my dark past, in days when I bought zinnias in sixpacks, I was surprised by one particularly color mix of zinnias: bright hot pink and tangerine. It was a stunning combination of colors, though not one I would have thought to assemble on my own.
ebw-pete said…
for me, the real clarkia fun started when i began growing some of the ones which are harder to find and grow under slightly more particular conditions - c. breweri, c. rubicunda, c. concinna ssp. concinna, c. concinna ssp. raicheii, c. gracilis ssp. albicaulis, c. speciosa, etc... they are ALL really special, but some have been hard to get to reseed well on their own. but when i hit it right and plant one under the conditions it thrives under, the show goes ON and ON!
Pink doesn't go with orange? Au contraire; I've found the only way to make orange flowered plants work is by pairing them with pink or purple-pink plants.
Christine said…
Sometimes it's just the slightest of shade differences that makes it all go wrong- I swear I planted some Penstemon parishii along with the Verbena 'De La Mina', but it bloomed orange-coral! Dang it! Happy to see your pink cloud of garden loveliness, though!
Your pinks are lovely, I especially like the Clarkias. I've generally been avoiding pink recently, mostly because I've tended toward it in my past gardens, and I'm trying to be brave with colors. It also seems a lot of our natives that I like don't play well with pink. However, that said, I do want some pink-friendly areas here too. Especially as the Eriogonum grande rubescens Christine gave us is now starting to bloom, but it needs some company.
Country Mouse said…
Very nice indeed TMouse - I have seen some clarkias I got at the local CNPS sale reseeding outside the walls of my plant zoo and into the wild, which disturbs me a bit even though they could be locally native but are not. I'm trying to get seeds of our locally native clarkia - keep walking by every few days, but not ripe yet.

I have daunting landscaping challenges this fall for sure in two large garden areas and am not at all sure of myself color wise.

I like the idea of a bay area bloggers' get together - thanks for offering to host, L and R!