Our garden: blue hills, yellow flowers

The landscape in the distance can provide one of the colors in a planting bed combination.

That’s come home to me this week as I’ve noticed how great the yellow daylilies in front of our terrace look against our view of the blue Kigali hills and sky.

Classic blue and yellow are working really well in this open, bright area.  (The columns of the terrace are pale yellow too.)

Below are yellow abutilon and yellow foliage in the same area. I need to bring some cream into the mix.

As the garden comes back from our  all the changes we made this summer, I’m starting to think more comprehensively about structure/color combinations in the planting beds. In June, as my two temporary helpers were fast digging up swathes of shrubs and flowers, there wasn’t a lot of time to get too prissy about perennial placement — I knew where I wanted the shrubs and grass, my main concerns for Phase One.

Quickly, I tried to direct the placement of the other plants into something like the ever-advised drifts, but as things fill in, I’m not getting the overall “clarity” (the word that most comes to my mind) that I want. So I need to get the shovel back out. (But these daylilies are good.)

I’m thinking about this observation on the relationship between plant color and form by Piet Oudolf:

Different shapes + different colours
There is a danger that there will be too much contrast. The eye may be overstimulated, and there may be no common ground.

He goes on, however, to say that “this is only a suggestion to be cautious. . . as even outrageous contrasts may work!”

He indicates that easier approaches may be:

  • Related shapes + related colours
  • Different shapes + related colours [Think Nori and Sandra Pope — I am.]
  • Related shapes + different colours

(from Designing with Plants.)

In September, we visited Chicago, and I spent some time in the Oudolf-designed* Lurie Garden.  In the large section in the photo below, fading shades of purple predominated.

Seed heads in dark brown, below, provided contrast.

OK, that works.

Above, in a yellow section of the garden, an ornamental grass is a transparent curtain across the city buildings.

*with Gustafson, Guthrie, Nichol, Ltd., and Robert Israel.

Bloom Day in December

Today, I took a closer look at my Abutilon or Chinese Lantern bushes.

Closeup of yellow Abutilon.

Compared to many of the other tropical or semitropical plants in the garden, the Abutilon are rather quiet.  The flowers are neat and smallish and hang down like bells.

Abutilon are also sometimes called Flowering Maples because of their leaves.
This variety has white blooms with pink veins.
A closeup.
A showier bush with reddish-orange blooms.
A reddish-orange bloom.
Closed blooms.
A white flowered Abutilon.

This bush has variegated leaves and is rather overshadowed by a pink Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet.

An Abutilon with variegated leaves beside a Brugmansia.
A coral bloom.  Another name for the bush is Chinese Bell Flower.
Closeup of a coral flower.

I think my bushes are Abutilon x hybridum, descended from South American varieties and brought here by expats.  Rwanda has one native variety, Abutilon bidentatum Hochst. ex A. Rich., which is not very showy.

Abutilon bidentatum.  Photo via http://westerndesertflora.geolab.cz.

Another species, Abutilon longicuspe, with purple flowers, is also native to east and central Africa.

Please visit May Dreams Gardens for more Bloom Day postings (the 15th of every month).

Abutilon longicuspe.  Photo via http://database.prota.org.