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Pink, the New … Pink!

by germinatrix | September 21st, 2009

hot pink bougainvillea blazing against a desert sky. wow.

hot pink bougainvillea blazing against a desert sky. wow.

Why have I always had a problem with pink? Is it the association with bubble-gum girliness that offends my tough, punk rock garden aesthetic? (okay, I’m stretching the truth. I was NEVER punk – I was a Sturdy New Wave Chick. With a somewhat Gothic complexion and literary disposition) Pink is soft. Somewhat silly. Foofy. Pink is all ballerina tights and Love’s Baby Soft. (And that is one stinky eau de toilette! I was a Skin Musk by Bonnie Bell kind of girl)

But I’ve been noticing a pink edge sneaking into my garden – and into my garden desires. Hmmm… I wonder why…

I must have cordyline 'electric pink'! It is so ... electric!

I must have cordyline 'electric pink'! It is so ... electric! and pink!

The pink I am attracted to isn’t anything like a grannie’s shower cap or cotton candy. It’s more like – Suicide Girl Hair Pink. It’s tough AND soft AND pretty AND in your face.

wouldn't this make the coolest bra? c'mon - you thought so, too!

wouldn't this make the coolest bra? c'mon - you thought so, too!


oooo ... I want to wear this in my hair

oooo ... I want to wear this in my hair

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against girliness! I am a BIG FAN of the silly! But in a garden, I like to see things balance out in some way.  Often I see pink flowers used with purple flowers and blue FLOWERS and it all becomes a soft focus floral wash. I love a soft, billowy pink flower, but why not cuddle it up against something rough and spiky, just to give it some edge?

fluffy pink oenethera gets all clingy with an aloe - oh yea!

fluffy pink oenethera gets all clingy with an aloe - oh yea!

Also, I hope we are all thinking beyond flowers when we think pink. Foliage comes in pink, too, and that is even MORE exciting to me – talk about  bringing pizzazz to a planting scheme! I have a few examples in this post, but many more come to mind … several of the coleus hybrids have some of the best pinks around, and bringing that kind of electricity into the shade is a design coup. In the world of succulents there are fabulous rosy tones – Pachyphytum oviferum look like plump pink jellybeans, sedum tricolor blushes in the sun, and many echeverias are totally out with their pink pride!

my favorite echeveria, 'afterglow' - tough, beautiful, AND pink!

my favorite echeveria, 'afterglow' - tough, beautiful, AND pink!

irisene or 'bloodleaf' is as hot as it gets for the lucky few who can plant it!

irisene or 'bloodleaf' is as hot as it gets for the lucky few who can plant it!

I could never talk about how pink can work in a tough garden without bringing grasses into the picture. Many of them have flowers that are flushed with pink, especially upon emerging, and when the sun catches the rosy fuzzy panicles … well, my heart stops. Ornamental grasses are generally rugged sorts, with flowers that are rarely showy in a conventional way – so the soft pink coloration gives a poignant beauty to these strong plants.

my miscanthus floridulus - is your heart still beating?

my miscanthus floridulus - is your heart still beating?

Pink has a place in the tough, drought tolerant palette. Many landscape designers in Southern California shy away from softer colors because of our strong light, which tends to wash out all but the most strident tones. However, pink isn’t always a shy, shrinking violet! Just look at her in these pictures, and look at her more closely in the plantings you encounter day to day. I tip my hat to those who have been playing with Rizzo and Frenchie all along, knowing that the Pink Ladies are a ballsy bunch. Yes, some pinks will flutter at you a little and then smile wanly, but other pinks will bat their eyelashes, toss their vibrant hair, and growl (and I’m thinking specifically about Loropetalum ‘Plum Delight’!). Choose those pinks – the Riot Grrl Pinks!

grevillea 'long john' has the coolest flowers! just try not to love this plant!

grevillea 'long john' has the coolest flowers! just try not to love this plant!

21 Responses to “Pink, the New … Pink!”

  1. What a way with words you have, young lady! I couldn’t agree with you more about the color Pink! I always say “I’m not a huge fan of pink” then when I look around my garden all I see is PINK!! It’s truly hard to say you don’t like the color when there’s such awesome flowers and foliage in those tones – and I think you’ve named ALL the coolest ones. My favorite, of course, is the escheveria…but you probably knew that….

    Lovely, lovely photos to boot!

  2. Nice collection of pink. Here in SLO we would refer to that color as Madonna Inn pink (check it out For years I was anti pink in just about everything, but a couple of years ago it just started to appear so fresh and happy to me. I went through a pink flower phase, but it was the lighter tones like the oenethera. I simply loved the way it glowed at sundown and tucked it in everywhere.

  3. I love pink the garden, particularly pale pink. It’s so elegant and versatile. I agree about avoiding namby pamby partners like blue flowers, pale pink knows how to rock other foliage colors. Great combo: Red loropetalum, pink bonica roses, Mexican Feather Grass and Kent Beauty Oregano.

    If you start a new branch of the Pink Ladies, can I join?

  4. Brilliant!

    Very fun with great photography. Totally punk rock. I’ve had similar experiences with yellow. I think I hate it but it keeps popping up here and there.

  5. Pink be bold, pink be strong, pink it up and party on! I’m with you. A good strong pink is not at all a bad thing. Great pictures and fun topic!

  6. Hehe, I was a Jovan Musk girl myself! I loved this; when I look around my garden I see edgy pink too…Intense fuchsia fuchsias, begonia blossoms that go from shell to red, with some of my favs sneaking over into coral. I love the way you describe your exuberant plant lusts; have I mentioned that you crack me up? We’ll sure miss you in Raleigh this week, will report often! xoxo

  7. I adore pink—hot pink and soft pink. The hot pink crepe myrtles are overused here in Austin, turning some gardeners off that color. But there are many more great examples. I love your focus on pink foliage, Germi. Yummy!

  8. oh now you have me desperately trying to think of the name of that perfume I always wore….shoot –it was in a black and yellow bottle and I think it started with and ‘i’ (hmmm) – and I am curious what it would say about my color choices. Pink has never been my thing either…blond and pink says all bad things to me….where as blond and black, brown, green and white are stronger more earthly and easily glamified if needed– much more my way. My garden is still in early days, so I have successfully continued to avoid the pink (except for my grass tops and peonies) — but I think I am sliding down a slippery slope.
    I see someone else commenting that you too will not be in Raleigh ;( …me neither…I am feeling like girl w/o a date to the prom!! (except that it it my anniversary, so actually I do have a date)

  9. that cordyline is out of control.

  10. Sweet One! I am CRAZY about Echeveria ‘Afterglow’! I recently planted 20 in my front garden … and I’m thinking about adding more! There’s an idea – an echeveria HEDGE! hahahaha! It’s so funny, suddenly realizing that my favorite color in the garden is pink, of all things! Such a blow to my Goth-ness, but when the garden tells me something is beautiful – I must listen! XO!

    Hello Kat! The Madonna Inn! Yes – now THAT is a pink! I was contemplating putting an image of the main house at Lotusland, which is pink stucco …but The Madonna Inn wins the pink house sweepstakes! I agree with you about pink feeling fresh and happy- it can liven up anything. I’m trying to find ways to use the lighter pinks in a way that feels like ‘me’ … it can be done, it’s just about finding the right pairings! (I love that oenethera – I saw it on a walk and now want to pair it with my aloes and agaves!)

    OMG Susan I adore the combo you described! Put a red loropetalum in ANYTHING and I’ll die, but with the stipa and the roses and the Kent Beauty? HEAVEN!
    And consider the Pink Ladies active! We can ALL be Rizzo!

    Hi Laura/Punk! (to differentiate you from Laura InterLeafer!) Okay I’m glad you agree that pink can be punk, because you know punk in the garden!
    I laughed about your yellow comment, because I’m the same! I always think – “Yellow? Really?”, but when anything is in bloom in my garden, it’s almost always either orange or yellow. HA! The garden wants what it wants….
    Thanks for popping by!

    Yay for that Pink Affirmation, Christina! Once a bunch of cool pinks are assembled together, it is easy to see how to go less prissy with it, don’t you think? Yes – Pink be BOLD!

    Laura DOLL! I’m wanting so badly to hang out with you all! I know you are having a BLAST as I write this! Somehow, I pegged you as a fellow musk lover, and I STILL love the smell of Jovan Musk! Skin Musk was a little lighter – they still sell it, and I still buy it sometimes! My scent of the moment, which I am TOTALLY passionate about – Rose 31 by Le Labo … it’s a men’s fragrance based around rose, with notes of pepper, cumin, and a fresh musk. You HAVE to smell it!
    I’m happy I crack you up! You do the same for me – which is why we are garden BFF’s!

    I hate it when good plants are overused, Pam! I think Crepe Myrtles are such beautiful trees – the sinewy trunks, the saturated flower color, and the fall foliage color … but they line so many streets here that people react badly to them. Boo! They have some awesome pinks!
    The picture of the bee on the gaillardia in your recent post – a WONDER! as per usual! XO!

    Hey Rochelle! I am such a fragrance nut! I am planning on being a perfumer in my next incarnation – I see it as another way of gardening! If you figure out what the perfume was, let me know, and we can use it as a garden oracle!
    I think you are so right about blond and pink – it is such a Barbie statement, so blonds have to be careful about their combos! When I was blond (platinum and messy – art school days) I was all about wearing black and gray. Actually – I still am!
    How FUN to be designing your baby garden! Slide down whatever slope you want – that is the fun and beauty of a gardener’s garden … always changing, full of experiments and fun!

    It is, isn’t it? I MUST have one! Or FIVE!

  11. Now I simply must have a Grevillea ‘Long John’

  12. Hot sizzling pink has always been a favorite.
    Soft new born baby pink has never seen the light of day in my garden – can’t stand it.

    Even when my beau gave me a soft pink orchid for my birthday I had a hard time with it ( and the damn thing lasted 3 months ). After the first month I moved it to the bathroom.

    Nope, I’m not a sissy pink girly girl. The color evokes vulnerability, Valley Goil Barbie and her pink corvette and a certain type of softness that makes me wince.

    If it is going to be pink it has to have some power behind it.
    Lots of vibrant blue and shocking reds.
    That’s the only pink that makes it into my garden.

  13. Jean Prescott says:

    Might “blood leaf” make it on a patio, in a big pot…like a croton?

  14. I too have had a love-hate relationship with pink, which I see as a sort of alpha-female color. My grandmother gave my cousin, who I percieved as pretter than I was, pink stuff, and me lavender stuff. I went through a phase fairly recently of taking pink back. Yes, even the softer shades, because I’m not afraid to admit to having a vulnerable side.

    Besides, as far as I know, there are no hot pink agaves. But I do have an a. angustifolia with a powder-pink edge on the leaves.

  15. I can feel my aversion to pink beginning to fade…is there a conspiracy afoot?
    Just discovered a crape myrtle called ‘Arapaho’ with burgundy foliage and deep deep crimson flowers…bet you would like it!

  16. aaah, something in the air… or in the la water maybe? my sister thinks i’ve gone cuckoo because i keep buying PINK too but i was soo not into pink until a few months ago…

    i even had a client come to me for a modern hot pink garden last week… i’m balancing with lime green and punches of other color… how fun! and i have a majority of those plants (the long john, echeveria, and cordyline) as well as hot pink salvia and cistanthe on the list… it’s going off!

  17. That is lovely. You are my garden hero! I love pink too. Stargazers are my poison. I had a several, but the ex accidentally mowed them over. : ( I hoping the come back. I love the smell.

    I love purple. There is this common ground cover, vine-like thing all over the landscapes of Nashville that I adore. Tradescantia pallida, I believe. I want to steal some from a building down the street from my office, but I don’t have the guts!

  18. Omigod Loree – run out RIGHT NOW and get yourself a Grevillea ‘Long John’! It is an AMAZING plant! I ADORE all grevilleas! They are such an interesting family of plants – they do it all for me – foliage, flower, cool wild form – LOVE!!! You’ll die. They would look fantastic with your plant palette – DO IT!!!! XO!

    Hey Michelle D.! I’m with you – I love the Punk Pinks! The softer pinks (Valley Goil – I laughed out loud!) are harder … but I do have to say I love that Oenethera/Aloe combo pictured above, where the pink is very soft, but contrasted with the tough, macho aloe – it works for me! I don’t know if I’d EVER come around to pink when it comes to bedding annuals ( but honestly – I’m fairly certain I’ll never come around to “bedding annuals” HELLO!), but I am realizing that I am more open to it than I thought!
    That is so funny about the orchid – why is it that they ONLY live if you don’t like the color? Haha!

    Expat my dear! Yes – Iresine will do beautifully in a pot! Can I suggest a combination for you? I would LOVE to see a dramatic container combo of Phormium ‘Pink Stripe’, Bloodleaf, and Ipomea batatas ‘Blackie’. If you want to go for broke, add a few Echeveria ‘Metallic’ for succulent form and over the top cool!
    OMG – I think I have to do this container combo, too!

    SUMMER! STOP IT!!! You have an Agave angustifolia (which j’adore!!!) with a PINK EDGE on the leaves??? SHUT UP!!! Where do I get one?????!!!! Emergency!!! I MUST HAVE ONE NOW!!!! I swear, I will stalk you until I can find out where to get one – my lust for agaves respects no boundaries!

    Ricki, L. ‘Arapahoe’ IS fantastic – you’ll love it! A Crepe Myrtle with guts. A friend planted one about 2 years ago after trying to get her hands on it forever, and it is better in person than in photos. DO IT! And I am thrilled to see that so many of us are coming out of the closet with our pink pleasure! RIGHT ON! This is what The Germinatrix is all about!

    Vanessa, what IS it? A horticultural zeitgeist? You know how those things happen – I remember when suddenly orange wasn’t tacky anymore. Is that now happening with pink? Are we on the vanguard of a new dawn (the sky tintd with pink, of course!)
    It sounds like you have one of those dream clients! I love it when people come to me with a cool agenda that I can run with! I’ll bet that is going to be one kick ass garden – the galvanizing garden for the ‘New Pink’ movement in garden design! You’ll put the pics on your site, right?
    PS – I am stopping by your shop the minute I get back into LA. We are SO CLOSE!

    E-Mullet! HI! So great to hear from you – hope all has been well!
    Okay – mowing over STARGAZERS is unforgivable!!! No wonder he’s the EX! If you are a lily lover, check out Lilium ‘Black Beauty’ – OMG! I had a stand of them in my garden for years, and it was such a thrill! I’m so glad you commented, because you reminded me about how much I loved them, so I’m going to have to find a way to get them back in my garden.
    And as far as getting yourself some of that purple groundcover … do it! Just ask someone in the building … I’m positive they’d be happy to share. All gardeners love to share their plants if they can – it’s part of our religion. And if the person there isn’t a gardener, they’ll just think you’re doing them a favor by cleaning up the plant. Either way – you win! XOXO!

  19. Iriseeeeene! That’s all I have to say. Love that plant.

  20. Love it! I just picked a bunch of pink zinnias yesterday since they will soon be knocked down by frost (it the mildew doesn’t get them first). And that bee shot totally makes we want to plant a grevillea. I just realized they’re hardy in Seattle.

  21. Hey Germi, been missing your tweets. Your pinks are the best…!
    I have one bed of blowsy bloomin’ Japanese anemones in two shades… hot, hot, hot and a soft, sweet one that isn’t holding its own against the competitor.
    I’m feeling a bit fragile, and come to you for support. It seems my post on The Grow Melt Project is generating a backlash against the designers’ use of ice, read: energy drain! As one who hates conflict, I took the plunge and commented back.
    I recall you had concerns about the plants.
    If you have a moment, do revisit the post – today, Oct 1, I posted a photo from the next day, when it was melting. . . . .
    and linked to the original. That’s it for now, I just needed some TLC and thought of you :~) tendril

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