I will start with a confession. No one needs to know about this but you and me.
I bought myself a Christmas present from Stevie. ‘The Secret Lives of Colour’ by Kassia St Clair.
It combines two of my favourite things: words and colours. Words for colours. Colours for words. Stories about colours, using lots of words. It is a beautiful thing.
And of course I handed it over to Stevie for wrapping up and opening on Christmas Day with a gasp of surprise!
When he wasn’t looking, I dug it out of the wardrobe again. It is with me now. Ssshhh.
I wanted to just dip in to it to get my creative juices flowing before I started taking photos.
It’s a frosty morning. A light frost. Rather than there being a total white-out, the colours are just muted a little.
Take these hazel catkins (are they early? They seem early. I think they will just sit tight, wriggling a bit to keep warm, until spring).
I’m not generally a ‘neutrals’ kind of person. I know neutrals are tasteful, but I do love my pops of colour. And blocks of colour. And swirls and twirls and whirligigs of colour.
But on a day like this, I can appreciate the neutrals.
Now, thanks to my (ssshhhh) book, I have some lovely words to describe these colours. The honeycomb is blonde with just the merest hint of chartreuse near the blush-rose stem.
But I don’t want to languish with the neutrals for too long. Time for a colour pop.
(Oh! My cup runneth over! Raspberry with a background of stormcloud and ube!)
I planted a row of Rosa ‘L.D. Braithwaite’ along our front fence two years ago. The soil was terrible: rubbly stuff, with great hunks of chalk and flint. It is also dry as a bone. Poor old ‘L.D. Braithwaite’ has been toughing it out.
L.D.’s growth has been so spindly and his flowering so sparse that I was thinking of uprooting him and replacing him with a bit of Lavender. But this week, L.D. has been given a reprieve. Ziggy, our half-dog half-kangaroo, has worked out that he can jump our fence. As L.D. grows, I am hoping that his thorny fortifications will prove a disincentive for Ziggy to leap.
Now let’s toddle off around to the Rose Garden. Here is another David Austin rose, ‘England’s Rose’. I’m going to say she is somewhere between fuchsia and shocking pink. Not neglecting the smudges of taupe, and umber, and slate grey in the background. And just the merest hint of Mountbatten pink.
Ah! Tyrian purple throats on spent Penstemons. And the green? Avocado! For the background, it’s wavering between between khaki and cadet.
Also wavering is this stem of Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’. The buds have a smudge of crimson-pink, but open peachy pale. The stem floats on a sea of pea-green and silver mist.
This is going to test me. A stem of industrial iron with nubs of russet and fawn. It reminds me of a young deer antler.
Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’ has been dipped in icing sugar. Frost always clings to the outer edges of petals and leaves.
The Gallica Rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ has beautiful autumn foliage. There are nut and spice tones, enlivened with pistachio and citrus peel. The combination of colours reminds me of artisan nougat at a Christmas market.
Here is an amethyst crystal.
I love the silver grey of Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’. These are the tones of a dressing room in a stately home: lavender, sage, just a sniff of arsenic.
In contrast to the cool greys of Salvia, here are some warm earth tones: dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, hazelnut, cinnamon spice. All my favourite December indulgences.
You can depend upon Penstemon ‘Raven’ for a late pop of colour.
I love the contrast between the fuchsia pink stems and the pistachio leaves. Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is providing a backdrop of ruby and plum.
Lady Em is in rude health.
She is only wearing a powder-puff negligee. She believes that the cold is good for her constitution.
The normally magenta Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ has darkened to heliotrope. She looks perished with cold.
I do rather like the murky alien green and outer space blur in the background here…
The leaves are embossed with frost.
Erodium manescavii flowers on…
On to the Bright Border, which is doing its best. Here is Rosa ‘Summer Song’, looking a little wan.
And the last few blooms of Persicaria ‘Blackfield’, looking Christmassy with a background of lavender-grey and chestnut and mole.
My Perennial Wallflower, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ has been flowering since March. This plant is nearly three years’ old and, I suspect, is not long for this world. Such endless flowering comes at a cost: live fast, die young.
I will leave you with some puckered rosehips. I feel we need a colour pop to end on. But there are lovely charcoal and burnt umber stems, and there’s a blurry background of taupe and fawn too.
The colour is leaching from the garden. I will have to embrace these neutrals for the next couple of months. With the occasional sparkle of frost and bright blue sky, I think I can keep bringing you pops of colour. I might learn some new words for white.
Now I’ll just sneak this book back into the wardrobe. Stevie will never know…
Are you a colour pop or a neutrals sort of person? Do you like spice tones or earth tones, or jewels and gemstones? Does it vary with the seasons?
The Mindful Gardener invites you to indulge your senses in a feast of colour, and texture and form and scent.
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