by germinatrix | September 21st, 2009
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…
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!