The power of pink comes to fore

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NOW that every­thing is com­ing into flower it is eas­ier to tweak the colour scheme and add plants that ei­ther strengthen the main colour or pro­vide con­trast.

One of the colours that does not seem to get much at­ten­tion when talk­ing about colour is pink. Yet, walk­ing through gar­den cen­tres it is the pre­dom­i­nant colour of most sum­mer an­nu­als, es­pe­cially the shade-lov­ing va­ri­eties.

Think pink and the bed­ding plants in­clude Be­go­nias, Cleome (Pic­ture), Cos­mos, Dianthus, Dahlias, Di­as­cia, Im­pa­tiens (New Guinea) Petu­nias, Dahlias, Ver­bena, Vinca, and Zin­nias.

Among peren­ni­als, the del­i­cate pink Gaura “Bal­le­rina” is a most pop­u­lar plant. Shades of pink also pre­dom­i­nate in Al­stroe­me­ria, Aqui­le­gia, An­gelo­nia, Arme­ria, peren­nial be­go­nias like “Dragon Wings”’ and “Mil­lion Kisses”, Echi­nacea, Pelargo­ni­ums, Hi­bis­cus, Lo­belia Speciosa, Pen­ste­mon and Peren­nial Ver­bena. If you love flow­ers it’s hard not to have pink in a sum­mer gar­den.

There is of­ten a sense of be­ing apolo­getic about us­ing pink. Maybe be­cause it is such as soft fem­i­nine colour and many of our land­scap­ers are male? Nev­er­the­less, the re­al­ity is that many gar­den­ers use pink in abun­dance.

Vet­eran gar­den writer Nancy Gard­ner de­scribes pink as friendly and ver­sa­tile. While pink may be dis­missed as pre­dictable, the other side of the coin is that it in­duces a re­laxed at­mos­phere. We re­spond to the soft, fem­i­nine, and sooth­ing qual­i­ties of pink and that is what many of us want in a gar­den.

Pink is a mix of red and white and it is in­cred­i­bly di­verse, from hot and siz­zling at one end of the spec­trum to soft and dreamy at the other end. Be­sides work­ing well with red and white, pink also com­bines well with pur­ple, blue, yel­low and even orange, if the pink is a hot, cerise colour.

The main thing to re­mem­ber when us­ing pink with other colours is that it tends to be ei­ther a cool pink (on the blue side) or a warm pink (on the yel­low side). Even though pink goes well with red, don’t mix cool red with the warm pink, or vice versa. Pink also jars if warm and cool pinks are used to­gether although it can be de­fused by us­ing blue and mauve shades in the group­ing and even adding in yel­low, which al­ways works well with mauve

The other as­pect of pink is that it blends with most colours by pick­ing up and al­ter­ing, de­pend- ing on what­ever is next to it.

Whether pink has crept by stealth into your gar­den or whether it has been in­ten­tional, here are some com­bi­na­tions that can ei­ther soften or add drama to the gar­den.

Pink and blue with a touch of le­mon or white is a tra­di­tional com­bi­na­tion that is sooth­ing but not in­sipid. Pink and yel­low can work to­gether as long as there is no trace of orange in the yel­low. An­gelo­nia “An­gelMist” Pink and Neme­sia “Sky Blue” are a del­i­cate, wist­ful com­bi­na­tion.

A blend of pink and white is fresh and cool, even if the plants used are heat and drought tol­er­ant, such as pink Salvia gregii and white aga­pan­thus.

Pair­ing pink with mauve is ro­man­tic and ethe­real, es­pe­cially when sil­very grey fo­liage is added like that of Senecio Dusty Miller, Artemisia, Stachys and Laven­der. An­other al­lur­ing com­bi­na­tion is Echi­nacea and Peren­nial basil, es­pe­cially the new Echi­nacea Pow­Wow “Wild Berry” which is a deep rose pink. It car­ries more flow­ers than other Echi­nacea va­ri­eties.

Red and pink (both with blue tones) are bold to­gether and touches of blue or white can be added. Pink ap­pears darker when placed with white, and is bolder when used with blue.

Pale pink with deep green cre­ates a con­trast, set­ting off the pink tones. With the prob­lems of downy mildew, a safe op­tion is the New Guinea Im­pa­tiens “Divine” which is not af­fected by downy mildew and gives al­most the same sense of abun­dance. The flow­ers and plants are slightly big­ger than the bed­ding im­pa­tiens.

Hot pink with glow­ing orange is the­atri­cal and modern. It needs to be off­set by dark green­ery. A mass plant­ing of Zinnia Za­hara Fire and Dou­ble Coral Rose is quite spec­tac­u­lar.

Ma­genta pink with deep green and dark, true blue adds depth and draw the eye in an other­wise in­sipid scheme.

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