Sunday, February 27, 2011

Color Essay #8: Pretty in Pink

Pink can be dramatic...

and it can be subtle.

Dahlia in the field at Butt's Berry and Flower Farm, Rockwood Ontario.

It ranges in intensity from almost red to...

Buckets of lilies at the Kingston Farmer's Market.

soft pastel shades.

Farmer's Market flowers gathered into a white pitcher

Pink can stand all on its own.... 

The Garnet Garden, Oakville, Ontario. (see the garden here)

and it plays well with others.

Have you ever noticed someone at a garden center or nursery, standing in line with an odd or unusual purchase?

I remember seeing this well dressed couple, with a cart filled with rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom, waiting to complete their purchase at the sales counter. I swear that they must have strolled down the nursery isle and randomly selected bushes that just happened to catch their eye, rather like they might have done if they were shopping for shoes or clothing. I am sure that their purchase decision was fueled primarily by the visual appeal of the bushes in full flower. Rhododendrons and azalea are spectacularly beautiful, after all! 

The azaleas, in particular, would be a challange to grow sucessfully here in Ontario. Our winters are harsh and our summers are hot and dry. Though I have not had great success with rhododendrons myself and am therefore no expert, I at least know from my failings, that rhododendrons need soil amendments to prosper. The fact that there was nothing in the cart, but the bushes themselves, lead me to think that the happy couple were complete novices about to make a potentially expensive mistake.

Not only novices fall prey to the allure of a flower in bloom. I have come home from the nursery, on more then one occasion, with an impulse purchase having been enticed by the arresting face of some winsome blossom who called out to me, "Buy me, I am so pretty!" 

I have been burned by these beauties so many times however, that I am a bit more cautious these days. I consult plant tags and consider growing conditions. If for instance, the plant needs lots of moisture, I give it a pass, no matter how attractive it is. 

I am also am more than little wary of unknown plants that could turn into nasty, hard-to-eradicate, garden invader. When in doubt, I consult one of the nursery personnel or pass altogether, until I have checked out a plant's references.

In today's post I have gathered pretty pink flowers from my own garden and elsewhere as noted, beautiful temptresses all.

The first pink flowers in my garden are bleeding hearts. (Dicentra spectabilis)

Another early summer beauty. Columbine (Clementine "Rose" Aquilegia)

Hollyhocks in the Lucy Maud Montgomery Garden in Norval, Ontario (see the garden here)

Bee Balm (Monarda 'Marshall's Delight') One of my favorite Bee Balms in my 
garden is this pretty pink variety.

Perennial Sweet Pea or Everlasting Sweet Pea (L. latifolius)

Everyone knows annual sweet peas. Well, this is the perennial version. I used to have it in my first ever garden and definitely want to add it to my current garden. 
Now, to be honest, perennial sweet pea can get a bit messy looking, and so it is a good idea to watch it carefully in spring and make sure that it is neatly restrained by its supporting trellis. Like the annual flower, it likes full sun. Unlike its annual cousin, it does not have a scent. I have read that it can self seed prolifically, but I have never had a problem with it. 

Lavatera in a Georgetown, Ontario garden (see the garden here)

My Mum used to grow this old fashioned annual. Last summer, I saw it growing in a private garden in the nearby Georgetown, and I was reminded just how pretty it is.  A cousin to Hibiscus and Hollyhocks, Lavatera has dark green foliage, and large blooms, that put on a great show all summer.

This is one of my prettiest daylilies.

(Papaver orientale)

I already have red oriental poppies, but I like these even better. I saw this soft pink variety at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton and think that they are stunning.

Oriental Lilies in my front garden.

A Rose of Sharon helps to keep pink going all summer long in this private garden in Kingston, Ontario.

Deep pink sedum flowers in my back garden.

In early fall, this Burning Bush initially became hot pink in color.

This is the third of my Stylish Blogger Award posts. This one goes out with my thanks to the blog Elly's Tuin. Elly gardens in the Netherlands, and though I am only just getting to know her, I think that she is someone who appreciates the soft beauty of the color pink.


  1. Dear Jennifer, A veritable symphony in pink you offer your readers today! I am particularly drawn to the blush, pale tints and tones but one cannot help but naughtily think that a flash of 'knicker pink' would certainly set a well dressed border alight!

  2. Jennifer, speaking of someone who makes random purchases based on pretty flowers, I just so happened to purchase some Lavatera seeds in the fall based on a pretty picture. But I know virtually nothing about this plant. Any idea how large it will get?

  3. Like your happy couple shopping, I too have bought plants in bloom.. such as the ginourmous foxgloves in full glorious bloom that I brought home only to find they are biennial and won't bloom again the following year. I'm learning....

    I don't love pink, but your beautiful shots are making me a convert!

  4. Oh you have reminded me to get some Lavatera in the spring..usually get a little six pack, tuck them in the burgundy to chocolate border and forget they are there until they are in bloom...true beauty and a good perk me up for the other plants.

    All these photos are beautiful and do lift my heart. Such texture as well as shape..a lovely variety that speaks to the promise of spring to come.

  5. I have learned not to get too ambitious with new and different plants over the years. I tend to stick with the tried and true. Having said that, I have also spent way too much money on appetizers for the deer and elk. I love pink and usually have pink lilies or hollyhocks in my garden as well. Last year my lilies frozen right as they were blooming. I hope this year I can get more out of them.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    I think your header photo is divine!

  6. Pink is one of my favorite garden colors. I have also had my struggles with Rhodies. We lost some, amended the soil and shut off the water sprinkler near them. They are very shallow rooted, need a winter windbreak and not a lot of water. So far they have survived.

    Your pinks are just beautiful.


  7. I think I would like to visit the Garnet garden. The pink hydrangea was calling me. But I may sidetrack for those pink poppies at the Botanical garden.

  8. The flowers are all very lovely. I was thinking how you could possibly have 3 dogs and that many wonderful blooms. I see, you have taken some of these from other gardens. But if you have tamed your dogs not to walk back and forth on the garden beds, do give me some tips. I intend to have raised beds.

  9. pink spells spring and these blooms are singing the spring song...lovely

  10. I love all shades of pink! Pretty!

  11. Thanks for your comments everyone.
    Marguerite I did not want to rely on memory, so I checked the height of Lavatera on the Vessy's website. They say the plants reach 26"-36" inches. Lavatera plants very much remind me of hibiscus and do get a bit bushy.
    One, the dogs do terrorize my flower beds in the back garden. Scrap routinely goes ripping down the yard chasing squirrels who just laugh down at him from the tree tops. Spring is the hardest time. I put up fencing and wire cages around the emerging plants. Once summer comes the garden is so full that the dogs prefer not to negotiate their way through the jungle and there is much less plant loss.

  12. I am really enjoying your Color Essay posts! Those pink poppies are to die for! I have lots of pink in my garden (not by my own doing but my builder) but like you pointed out they play well with the other colors! Lovely!

  13. Dear Jennifer,
    Thanks for your nice words ... and you are absolutely right. My favorite colors are soft pastels. Your essay of pink flowers is very, very beautiful!!!.
    Some of these flowers I have in my garden too, but you will not be surprised about that.
    You must know Jennifer, I think pink, pink I dream, so I really love pink
    Lovely greetings, Elly

  14. What lovely pictures, and such a variety of flowers! I love the hollyhocks especially, but they are all beautiful.
    I have to say that I am always tempted when I go to a nursery, although I have learned to restrain my impulses, mostly because my garden is so overplanted now that I know I will probably not find room for whatever caught my eye...

  15. Hi Jennifer ~ By far my personal favourite is PINK ... whether in the garden or in my home (but I do try to show restraint)! Your story of the well-dressed couple made me reflect on my early days as a gardener. Those types of mistakes are so vital in the early stages of gardening and make people do their homework so as not to waste their money.

  16. Lovely post Jennifer. I did not know there were perennial sweet peas...I may have to try those as I have had NO luck with the annuals. And I really like the pink oriental poppies, too! Red is a bit too garish in my garden, but the pink ones would be perfect.

  17. Wow, what a beautiful selection of pink flowers. I have to say that I am a sucker for a garden nursery and find it very difficult to leave without a purchase of some kind! I can always find a little home for something new.

  18. A stunning selection of pink flowers - I love the Dicentra spectabilis and the Oriental Lilies in your front garden must give you so much joy!

  19. Very pretty! I have mostly apricots in my garden, but I love these pinks! Beautiful photographs. Maybe I'll have to put in a new garden area just for some of these stunning pinks.

  20. A great post with lots of beautiful flowers! Can´t help it, but the dahlia make me happy, although I know that many don´t like dahlias. But who cares?? ;-)
    Have a nice day!

  21. What a spectacular post - a veritable riot of pink! Absolutely magnificent floral displays, here and some made me feel as though I'd been swept up into a glorious painting!!!

  22. Hi Jennifer!

    In reply to the question you posed on my blog - I suppose it is safe enough to walk on the Massingir roads, in the event of a 'breakdown', as there are many little villages dotted along the route and so the animals tend to stay well away. Massingir falls within a Transnational Wildlife Reserve, in this instance comprising the Kruger National Park in South Africa and becoming the Limpopo Reserve once across the border in Mozambique. On the South African side, you may not leave your car at all while in the confines of the park. The greater majority of the animals tend to live in this area where they feel safe, away from the denser human habitation on the Mozambican side.

    While lions can be heard at Massingir, they are rarely spotted.

  23. Hi Jennifer, your pictures are fabulous. Yes I have often seen that couple here in Scotland and yes they do buy strange stuff, half hardy annuals at the end of September, and often those tender shrubs ideally suited for the tropics. Thank you for the visit to aberdeengardening.

  24. Love your pinks! My bleeding hearts are the first pink in my gardens as well. Your Columbine (Clementine "Rose" Aquilegia) is exquisite! I must find that for my garden.


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