Thursday, May 30, 2013

Complementary colors

Violet and yellow are on the opposite sides of the color wheel, which makes them complementary colors.

Courtesy Wikipedia

The two most prolific bloomers in my late spring garden are violet and yellow.

I fell in heads-over-heels with the tiny white-edged flowers of 'Sapphire Showers' Duranta erecta (syn: Duranta repens) in the garden of blogger Diana Kirby (Sharing Nature's Garden). I wanted to possess it the moment I saw it. Do you know what I mean - that dreamy plant puppy love feeling?

'Sapphire Showers' can get as tall as 25 feet in tropical regions. It is not particularly cold-hardy; Diana's specimen appears to have perished in the bitter cold winter of 2010. Luckily for my specimen, we've had mild winters since I planted mine. It's about five feet tall.
sapphire showers duranta

I love its cascading habit. I planted it in the far southeast corner of the backyard. Now I'm kicking myself for not planting it closer to my back patio where I could see it more easily! Duranta's a sun-lover, though, and my back patio area is pretty shady, so it's just as well... when it freezes dead to the ground, I suppose I could replant closer in, hmmm?
sapphire showers duranta

On the opposite side of the garden, in the front northwest section, is this most adorable mound of grey santolina, which is blooming for the very first time ever. Such a cutie!
gray santolina

I fell in love with its precious little yellow pom-pom flowers and nubby sage-green foliage in the midst of the Seattle Garden Bloggers' Spring Fling, in Shelagh Tucker's garden. ~Zing!~ went the Garden Cupid's arrows, straight into my heart. Swoon!
gray santolina

Come to think of it, Shelagh's may have been green santolina (Santolina rosmarinifolia syn. S. virens), which is taller and a lighter yellow. It's hard to say, given that everything grows larger and more lush on the West Coast, but I love my little mound just the same. And so do all manner of bees and flies and buzzy things - like this baby katydid and this unfortunate common house fly. "The Circle of Life" plays out once again in the garden...
baby katydid eating fly on santolina

Now I'm thinking I need to plant some gray santolina under the 'Sapphire Showers' duranta and some 'Sapphire Showers' duranta behind the gray santolina - right?

What complementary colors are knocking your socks off in your late spring garden? Leave a comment and a link and tell me all about it!

Words and photos © 2009-2013 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Complimentary colors? I suppose the purple and yellow as well - until Purple/Red or Purple/Orange or orange-yellow/magenta-red is considered a complimentary pairing.

    I do like the santolina blooms (two of my three plants are blooming right now - a gray and a green). It kinda surprises me how watered down the blooms are on the green santolina. But they match the green better, I suppose.

    1. I think D. Van Nostrand Co. may have misspelled that... or maybe they imagined the complementary colors giving each other compliments: 'Why, Yellow, you are looking stunning today!' 'Oh do be quiet, Violet, you're making me blush.' Colors that are close yet not exact opposites on the color wheel can look darn good, too. Then there's all sorts of other harmonious color combinations: analogous colors, color triads, and on and on.

  2. Those are both awfully pretty plants. Maybe I need to find room for that duranta too. I have santolina. And I always get the song "Santeria" in my head when I hear the name santolina. There it goes!

  3. I love the duranta but I think it may not fare well in my garden. However, the santolina does and is blooming. Funny, in England they always say to cut off the flowers before they bloom. Why ever. I love them.

  4. I'm jealpus. I've had the santolina for years and no blooms. Eeeerrrr