In the Garden:
Middle South
April, 2003
Regional Report

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In sun or filtered shade, angelonia is always a star of the summer garden in our region.

Annuals with Attitude

Since the world is already so nicely furnished with green, I feel it's my duty to go for plenty of color in my garden. Naturally, I grow lots of annuals, the big-bang, color plants of summer. Every year brings a new color scheme as I boldly experiment with species, hues, and combinations. To sidestep color chaos, I follow three easy guidelines to help my annuals keep a can't-fail attitude.

Harmonious Color
Opposites attract when it comes to color, and the big three of high-contrast combinations are purple with orange, pink with yellow, and blue with red. But sometimes less is better when it comes to color contrast, so I often cool down hot colors (red, orange) by pairing them with white or pale yellow. Gentle pastel pinks do best staying cool with blue or white. I am personally challenged by magenta, which is supposed to pair with chartreuse, but I set it off by itself in a small bed or container.

Managing Mixtures
Mixing different colors of a single flower always creates a festive look, but my rule is that I only get to mix one flower at a time. When I have a mixed bed of something, everything else nearby must be in a single color. So, if I have a sea of mixed impatiens, the begonias on the side will be either pink, red, or white, but not all three. This one-mixture-at-a-time rule keeps the most raucous mixtures looking well mannered.

Soothing Neutrals
When I buy blooming bedders, I also stock up on neutrals -- quiet annuals that bloom white or have silver or gray foliage. Most years I try to zero in on a single neutral plant so I can use it to offset potential clashes between colors and bring continuity and unity to my landscape. Just as music sounds best when compared to silence, colorful annuals often look best in the subdued company of neutrals.


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