I am not a minimalist, not in my home and not in my garden. Any list of favourites is going to be long so perhaps in keeping with my previous entry on white gardens I should present them according to colour. But then it makes a good deal of sense to organise them according to season. However, making sense is not my greatest goal in life.
I am not a huge fan of pink however whenever I state that I dislike something I am not long after frequently faced with many exceptions. Rest assured this will never stop me from being opinionated or expressing my opinions with great certainty. One of the main things about colour is that its appeal can be very much related to its surroundings and the lighting of its environment. Where I live, the light of spring is soft and cool, allowing pastel colours to look their best, just as they often do at dusk. So late winter and spring are the seasons I am most likely to enjoy pink in the garden, particularly pale pink.
Viburnum bodnantense “Dawn” is a stunner right around now, with scented pink blooms on bare branches. Unfortunately it has little to recommend it for the rest of the year so it needs to be integrated into the landscape carefully. A clematis growing through it would be helpful for giving it some interest later in the season and some judicial pruning for shape as it can get large and rangy. But the scent makes it worth having somewhere that you will pass by regularly. These photos make the pink look a little more intense than it usually looks anywhere I have seen it growing. It is also suited to being planted near an evergreen background or a dark fence to help set of the pale pink flowers.
The main disadvantage to camellias is that the flowers turn brown as they age and a large shrub can be a challenge to dead head. The variety called “Taylor’s Perfection” drops it’s flowers as they age so the ones left on the bush are always the nice ones. The image below shows it looking a very dark pink and I have seen images with it looking very pale. The one that grew in my previous garden was a very solid mid pink.
The rhododendron “Rosa Mundi” was the most spectacular earliest bloomer I ever had in my garden, and another named “Christmas Cheer” is nearly identical to it. Neither blooms at Christmas and when you buy them at a nursery they will have been forced into bloom in a greenhouse so are likely to be blooming a little earlier than they normally will in a west coast garden like mine. I always had blooms in March.
The main rhododendron season is in May and at this time there are many beautiful yakushimanum hybrids in soft pink and appleblossom colours. The one below is named “Yaku Princess”.
A large, and in my opinion breathtaking, rhodo I would never want to be without is “Lem’s Monarch”. It grows to be a very large shrub and it’s foliage is attractive year round.
Weigela florida “Carnival”…..
and wiegela “Florida Variegata” are two shrubs I love.
I don’t care if I don’t get apples, I love the blossoms on an apple tree. Crab apple Malus Floribunda is pretty stunning too!
Pieris japonica “Valley Valentine” has pretty pink dangling blossoms and many varieties have pink to red tinted new foliage.
By now it looks as though I, the self proclaimed disliker of pink, have a spring garden just brimming with it and I haven’t even gotten to the perennials and bulbs yet. I’d better get on with it.
Hellebores are one of my very favourites and come in many shades of pink, purple, green and white. The helleborus niger, also called Christmas Rose tends to be in the white and pink range more so than helleborus orientalis hybrids. In my garden they bloom in February and March.
Although I love hyacinths for their fragrance, and enjoy a potted one in the house or a forced bulb, I find them a little stiff as garden flowers. I prefer them mixed in with floppier things. I have seen pink hyacinths grown with creamy narcissus and loved the look. Pink hyacinth with pink and purple heathers give something upright and something spreading to please my picky eye. Emerging foliage of oriental poppies also helps to soften the stiffness of hyacinths.
Who doesn’t love tulips? Pink ones? Yes please! In my previous garden I was plagued with deer and tulips are one of their most favourite delicacies. I didn’t have the opportunity to develop a pink favourite.
Perennial favourites abound! Pink peonies, poppies and astilbe lead spring into early summer. Peonies can be bought at nurseries and garden centres labelled simply pink, red or white. I tend to like to know the names of the variety or more particularly I fall for a variety in a book and go hunting for it. Sarah Bernhardt is a very common and lovely romantic looking pink peony. Bowl of Beauty is more dramatic if you want a deeper pink.
The pink oriental poppies tend to be warmer and on the peachier side. I prefer to plant them away from any cool and purplish pinks such as the peony above.
I have fallen for the poppy named “Watermelon” shown below, but have yet to see it in any of my local nurseries. Just as well, as I doubt it would thrive on my lightly shaded balcony. That wouldn’t stop me from trying though.
I love the feathery fronds of astilbe. So do the deer! Astilbe come in a range of pink/red/white and purple. They grow best in light shade so the pale pinks really stand out.
Roses! I have to plant these carefully as I am attractive to a clashing array of pinks and peaches. Not that I am attracted to them when they are clashing.
I had an enormous specimen of the rambling rose “Albertine” growing in an old pear tree. People thought it was a rose tree and frequently gushed over it.
The roses are over by mid summer, though some will repeat bloom again in late summer or fall. By mid summer the sunlight is brighter and more easily washes out pale colours. I tend to plant purples, reds and oranges in the bright sunlight so the pinks take a bit of a break until they reappear in the mellow light of fall with some repeat rose blooms, perhaps a chrysanthemum sometimes streaked in foliage.
That’s a lot of pink for someone who says she isn’t overly fond of it.