Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Love of color

When gardening, I have one gift you won't find in any manuals.
I know it's strange, but I can change perennials to annuals.
- Dick Emmons

My dad often told me "You love people, not things." I believe today's usage of love has left him far behind. I do love color!
Driving here and there through town the colorful crepe myrtles have been in every block, almost in every yard. They appear in bright rose, light
pink, lavender and white. Recently a red is beginning to show up in a few plantings. What a boon to the July and August landscape these shrubs are!
Is there anyone who does not respond to color? Is it possible?

Think seriously about this! The blue sky, the first green tints of spring; the wonderful colors of fall, even the week-long dreary grey sky that we sometimes have; surely everyone responds in some manner to these.

We know and expect artists in all fields to be drawn in to the field of color. It is the food for their spirit; they hunger for it whether it is in the form of paints, yarn, and fabrics or in the flash of semi-precious stones. They are not alone in this. We all react to color whether consciously or not.

In general, we have been thoroughly studied and evaluated in regard to our reaction to color. The colors used in waiting rooms are usually considered to be soothing ones (a necessity if one is waiting for their ten o’clock appointment and the clock shows eleven), colors in a children’s department are bright and exciting ones. What is the color décor in your favorite restaurant; a restful one in earthy colors or exciting reds or oranges? This photo of the wall behind the Range Restruant in Albuquerque, NM was taken by Sherri Woodard Coffey and shows an eye catchingly display of child's toy ranges . The photo above, left, also taken by Coffey, shows only a small portion of woven wall hangings at a Taos gallery.
Although what are considered to be our basic reactions to colors have been scientifically studied, there are definite color trends. That too, has probably been analyzed to help manufactures decide what the public is ready for this year or the next. Remember the Harvest Gold appliances of the ‘60s? Or the sandalwood walls?

Personally, I react strongly to color. There have been occasional shopping disasters which I have tried to ignore and salvage. I always get pecular looks when I speak of this, but there are some shades of blue that I cannot wear. I cannot tolerate wearing these garments more than an hour or so. How these shades of blue ever appeared in my closet is a puzzle but being a little on the thrifty side, I attempt to “get my money’s worth” and force myself to wear this blue thing! It is a fact, that after a short time in this shade of blue, my hair begins to feel stringy, my nails have become rough and I am as edgy as a cat watching a nearby dog.
There is no hope for a compromise. The garment must go. Now!
I have sewed for many, many years, starting on my mother’s treadle machine. As a young married, with no machine, I even made a few garments by hand. Where does sewing enter in to a discussion of color? A look into my closets will answer that question…shelves full of colorful fabrics which spoke to me from their store racks. So now yards of material are on the shelves, waiting for me to return to a size 12 which was my favorite pattern size. How long does it take for fabrics to rot? Their future is not bright.
The real purpose of this blog is to show some pictures my son took of flowers he had grown one summer. Each time I find them in our stack of photos, I am impressed by their bright colors. I call them happy ones.
In these 100º days these lilies and irises could not survive. Daily watering is all that keeps even the most heat tolerant plants in bloom. Even sunflowers are hanging their heads. The little succulents are happy with lots of sun and their plump leaves help them survive. They don't wilt; they begin to shrink and wither when their supply of water is depleted.

Less than 2 week until September! For me, September is Fall. I ignore the calendar. School buses are at the DPS office, their drivers being tested. Buses are reviewing their routes. Texas tax free weekend benifiting those purchasing school needs has filled the stores.

Fall also means a fresh look at the flower beds. They can be as colorful as those of spring. Think about this:Fall flowers can be as prolific as those of any other season and some of them can be of the easy care variety.Our hillside had a sprinkling of golden rod and I decided to transplant one of the plants. It actually took root in an unlikely spot on the north side of the house where it was shady. Since that first attempt, I have moved a few more plants. What I need to do is to get serious about having a clump of gold and group at least five or six plants to make a showy display. Mine will never come near to being the golden carpets we passed one October while driving through Ohio. Field after field solid with golden rods in full bloom, make a memorable sight.
One of my favorites on my old home place was a row of purple asters that grew along the fence row. Their small lavender flowers bloomed profusely and attracted so many bees that I dared not get close. For that reason alone, it would be worthwhile to start a clump of these hardy plants. There are many varieties of asters and these may need more care than the old fashioned ones that remember growing unattended. They were not fertilized nor did they get special watering. The survived on whatever nature provided and made a colorful low hedge.
We mustn’t forget the chrysanthemums! Although many varieties are spoken of as “summer mums”, somehow the image of those large shaggy mums that were only a fall blooming plant lingers on. Today’s mums are as colorful as the ones that I remember, but the size of the blossoms are a fraction of those of the large ones I once grew. The pungent scent of the disturbed plant remains the same. Some dislike that scent very much, but to me, it signals the coming of cool weather, school starting, a few new fall clothes and other things associated with the changing season. My problem with mums is their root system which is near the surface of the flower bed and are very easy to disturb when raking the leaves that collect in the sprawling growth. The low-growing plant’s branches are also easy to break away. Incidentally, these branches spread out and take root, making cultivation difficult. Doesn’t matter here on the hill where cultivation is not a frequent occurrence Fallen leaves settling among the limbs are the biggest problem.
I’ve always been surprised that the Tyler Rose Festival is a fall event, having grown up with a yard sporting clumps of old-fashioned roses which were spring blooming. In later years my “monthly” roses protested their environment by limiting their floral production to only spring and fall. If you love roses (and who doesn’t) follow all the planting and care suggestions in a gardening book and they will repay you with a beautiful crop of roses…but probably not on a monthly schedule!

I love the fall. I love it because of the smells that you speak of; and also because things are dying, things that you don't have to take care of anymore, and the grass stops growing.
- Mark Van Doren