In the Garden:
Middle South
July, 2004
Regional Report

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Talk about high contrast! Chartreuse sweetpotato vine tumbles from a container planted with 'Super Sonic Salmon' and 'Super Sonic Red' New Guinea impatiens.

High-Contrast Combos

When my teenager pauses to remark on something beautiful among my gardening endeavors, I know a minor miracle has occurred. What caught her eye most recently was a pot of bold, bronze-leaved New Guinea impatiens with a wave of chartreuse sweetpotato vine billowing over the edge. And no wonder. In the world of flowers, high contrast combos make our hearts sing.

Good Partners
Rich burgundy paired with cool chartreuse was a shoo-in for catch-your-breath beauty, but why stop there? The blue bachelor buttons and Chinese forget-me-nots that have been shooting sparks around my orange cosmos are about done-for, so I've been making plans to create fresh waves of excitement for this season's second half.

Got yellow marigolds? Think merlot as you check out mid and late-season chrysanthemums for your fall garden. Or maybe you're looking forward to a nice show of blue asters, in which case sizzling bronze mums might be perfect. Meanwhile, rooted, stem-tip cuttings taken from light or dark-leaved coleus are a great way to fill spots vacated by spring bloomers that have melted away.

Speaking of melting, the next few weeks will be steamy, so don't forget to jazz up your shady spots. The stage there is already set in deep green, which makes an ideal backdrop for white or pale pink impatiens. If good bedding plants prove impossible to find, little mirrors hung from low tree branches positively dance in dappled shade, celebrating the difference between light and darkness.

These ideas are based on opposites, which is what high contrast combos are all about. Flowers and foliage offer endless possibilities, but you also can work wonders with tablecloths, chair cushions, or garden flags. Whenever you foresee a dominant color emerging in your garden, move in with its complement -- blue or purple with orange; white, gray, or chartreuse with red; or burgundy with yellow. When it comes to color, opposites really do attract.


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