An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

May 2, 2008

Honestly, I Can Quit Anytime I Want

I have developed an addiction to the color chartreuse, especially when it is combined with burgundy. The first time I heard anyone mention these two colors together in the landscape, was from my late design professor - George Baker. When he mentioned that all of his landscapes used these two colors in combination, I was initially repulsed, but now it is an obsession. It was sort of like the first time I tasted beer or heard Talking Heads, now I just can't get enough.

This first shot is of Fenway Park Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Fenway Park'). This was a Hines Nurseries introduction, but I am not sure if they got it from anyone else. I do know that they no longer offer it, and I have not seen it available from any other nursery. This is a shame, because it is a great vine. I grow it on a utility pole and have to keep in cut back so the power company won't do it themselves.
You can also Fenway Park in the next shot take a few weeks back, behind Royal Purple Smoke Tree (Continus coggygria 'Royal Purple'), which I have to cut back every year. I do this to promote vivid new growth, and to not block driver's views when they are turning the corner. In front of the Smoke Tree is a variegated gold and green Forsythia, but I do not know the cultivar.
Here are some unknown Iris that I put in front of the Smoke Tree. It was my first deliberate attempt to try a color echo.
This combo is the yellow-leaf form of Common Jasemine (Jasminim officinale 'Aureum') and Pizazz Loropetalum. I got the Jasemine at a great retail nursery in Sanford NC, called Big Bloomers. They grow just about everything they sell, and it is all in reasonably priced 4 to 6" pots. It is the kind of place to go if you want to be able to pick from 30 Heucheras or 100 Sun Coleus, but don't go if you are looking for large specimens or landscape ready plants. It is plant geek's paradise full of things that fit in the trunk.
Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' disappears for me in the summer, but will return in the fall.
My favorite Weigela is Rubidor (Weigela florida 'Rubidor'). Here it is coming up above one of my many garden thugs - Crocosmia.
On the north side of the house is where I grow some Hydrangeas, including the Sun Goddess (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Sun Goddess') which is paired with Ursula's Red Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum 'Ursula's Red') and my favorite Liriope, Pee Dee Gold Ingot (Liriope muscari 'Pee Dee Gold Ingot').
The other color I always try to use a lot of (especially in the summer) is orange, even better if it is a smokey orange. This is Iris 'Dante's Inferno' , and behind it is Abelia 'Sunrise' and the ubiquitous Rose Glow Barberry.
Finally, another plant that I am fond of is Asiatic Jasemine. There are several green and variegated forms that are extremely utilitarian and tough. They are a great substitute for Vinca minor and English Ivy. However, this one trails more than covers the ground, but the new growth is orange on top of chartreuse, yellow and green. It is Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki' , aka 'Golden Brocade'.


  1. I have the same problem. You need Aquilegia 'Sunburst Ruby,' it has ruby flowers & chartruese foliage. One of my favorite combos is Cotinus 'Ancot' (Golden Spirit) & Physocarpus opulifolia 'Monlo' (Diabolo), but that golden-centered dark leaved Physocarpus might be even better.

  2. I've just started the chartreuse / burgundy thing, but am a bit afraid because it seems so many people do it. Maymbe I'll try pink / burgundy (just kidding). I recently picked up 'Sweet Kate' and do certainly love its leaves--I hope it's a bit invasive, too. Anyway, I'm enjoying my 'Mellow Yellow' spiraea next to my 'Coppertina' ninebark this time of year, knowing the one will likely go a darker green and the other a darker red / chocolate.

  3. I'm with you on this. There's a yard down the street which is totally unremarkable except for the juxtaposition of a golden euonymus against a big purple-leafed plum tree. At this time of year it's a knockout.

    I just got Phygelius "Sunshine", which has nice golden foliage, but I'm sure the flowers are the standard scarlet/yellow, so they'd clash with any maroon-ish foliage nearby. Maybe someone will cross this one with "Sani Pass" to produce a cultivar with gold foliage and maroon flowers.

  4. MMD,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I too like the Cotinus and the Physocarpus.

    'Mellow Yellow' is my favorite Spiraea, but I have not found the place in my yard for it yet. I may try to sneak it into my son's garden.

    Golden Euonymus always looks better in other people's yards where they can spray it for scale.