Bookshelf: Donna's Picks:

Color for Adventurous Gardeners
Christopher Lloyd, one of Britians best known garden expert and holder of the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour brings us his unique take on garden color. The book is packed with amazing colour photos all arranged by their unique colours - so if you dream of a red garden, he'll show you how to make it happen.

Book Review by Jodi DeLong...

Christopher Lloyd’s latest gardening masterpiece arrived in the mail on a particularly obnoxious, cold, bleak and wet November day. When I looked at the cover, adorned with a deepest-red poppy with shades of green and rose in the background, I knew I’d get nothing done that day until I’d finished savouring the book.

This is a book to be enjoyed in front of a warm woodstove, with tea or some other sustaining beverage close at hand, a cat or six underfoot, and no interruptions such as housework or deadlines. I’d recommend Color for Adventurous Gardeners as a perfect gift for the gardener on your Christmas list, or as an ideal antidote to the winter blahs.

Possibly the most challenging and satisfying aspect of creating a garden is the planning of colour combinations. In this visually stunning book, Lloyd recommends that gardeners learn the rules of colour, primarily so that an adventurous gardener can bend or break such rules. Colour harmonies are nice, as when we have a striking pink peony and plant rosy gysophila or foxgloves nearby to complement it. But what of planting something contrasting to bring even more attention to that splendid peony? “Go for it!” is Lloyd’s motto.

But this is not merely an exercise in shocking contracts or gentle harmonies. Lloyd takes eleven colours of the garden; from passionate red to cheerful yellow to the true blues, through mauves and purples, to rich browns and blacks, and devotes a chapter to plants in each colour. At chapter’s end, he sums up with an appendix suggesting particularly attractive plants with foliage or blooms of that colour.

Lloyd challenges us to forget the “color wheel” theory of colour combinations and try something a little different; not merely for the sake of shocking, but to bring a new perspective to our eyes. Colour in the garden is very different from colour use elsewhere; we might be delighted with a brilliant lime-green coleus or an electric-magenta rock cress, but we wouldn’t necessarily want a car, a couch or a hat in those colours. One of the most unusual and I thought eye catching colour combinations I have used was to plant a creeping veronica with its periwinkle blue blossoms near the hot-fuschia of a spring rock cress and the acid yellow bracts on an unnamed spurge; it probably sounds like a psychedelic poster from the 70s, but after a winter of drab browns and greys, it’s as good a visual tonic for colour starved souls as a feed of dandelion greens is for our appetites.

The only drawback to Lloyd’s book is the number of plants which are not hardy to the colder zones; however, he does give zone information for each of the plants at chapter’s end, and many of these are hardy to colder areas such as are found in the northeastern United States and throughout Canada.

Whether you spell the word “colour” or “color”, you’re in for a treat with Colour for Adventurous Gardeners. And perhaps next year, you’ll include a planting of orange dahlias or osteospermum in among your blue border, to set it off. Go for it and see how satisfying the results can be.


Author : Christopher Lloyd
ISBN : 1-55297-530-4
Publisher : Firefly Books
Sugg. Retail Price : $19.95
Available in Softcover
Number of Pages : 192

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