Hello fellow readers,
I’ve been known to stop in my tracks to take a photo of a beautiful tree, garden, or the magnificence of nature’s inspiration. Then there’s what I kindly call ‘garden nots’ which became a fun lecture topic not long ago. Recently I visited Cape May where glorious gardens are plentiful. Then there’s the faux pas like the historic Congress Hall with a color calamity of annuals planted underneath the lawn trees which grace the front of the pale yellow and white trim exterior. Whoever made the selection of annuals may have thought the lemon yellow and bright orange marigolds work well with pale yellow. Not! To make matters worse, just after the ring of the hot colored marigolds were rings of bright pink wax begonias with maroon leaves followed by a pale pink ring of a green leaved variety. The hydrangea along the foundation are not yet in bloom, but I suspect they are ‘Nikko Blue’ or other blue flowering variety. Bright yellow and orange, mixed with hot pink and blue makes me queasy. And the green leaves of the shrubs and grass, considered a neutral in the landscape, doesn’t help matters much as the clashing colors are too close together for your eyeballs to take a break between them.
In addition to the color calamity there is the cultural preference mix-match of marigolds that are best in full sun while most begonias prefer full or part-shade. Better companions for wax begonias are the colorful patterns and large leaf foliage of Caladium also known as elephant ear. A white and green mottled variety would be smashing in front of Congress Hall highlighting the white trim. Contrasting textures add interest in a garden as do contrasting and complementary colors. Recall the color wheel you learned in school – Opposites attract and colors next to each other also work well. But hot and cool colors, bright versus pastels hues, are generally icky together.
A more ordinary companion to begonia would be the annual Dusty Miller, Senecio cineraria, with fuzzy silvery grey foliage. Grey is also considered a neutral color and therefore goes with anything. We often see dusty miller planted next to marigolds which is theoretically fine, but ordinary. A more exciting option would be the purple spikey flowers of Angelonia, Angelonia angustifolia, that attract bees and butterflies all summer long.
Marigolds, Tagetes, are often companions in vegetable and herb gardens as they deter many insects; however it’s said they can attract spider mites and slugs. Maybe marigolds can serve as a decoy protecting your veggies from these heavy hitters? The newer hybrids don’t have the strong pest controlling scent though. So perhaps you should stick your nose in the marigolds before you decide to buy. Well, maybe not. You never know whose nose was there first. Garden Dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org