Burnett: Colour adds ‘wow’ to landscapes

The “yellow parade” starts in February with the Hamamelis mollis Chinese Witch-hazel.

There are so many colours available when it comes to flowers and foliage in the garden.

Gardeners who take advantage of this tend to achieve a higher ‘wow’ factor in their landscapes. I was in my garden recently doing some spring clean-up work and paused to admire my newly acquired daffodil patch, which successfully came to fruition along with some early tulips I planted last fall. The yellow daffodils certainly are bright and cheery and the little bit of red coming from the tulips helps set up the show.

I began to muse about this early spring colour, and I started to count in my mind just how many yellow spring flowers there are, particularly in the early months. The “yellow parade” starts in February with the Hamamelis mollis Chinese Witch-hazel, a not so common plant in the Okanagan with very unusual but fragrant blossoms covering the plant prior to leafing out. I have seen them in bloom as early as late January on rare occasions but more often it’s into the month of February.

About the same time as the Witch-hazel we see the common spring crocus and yellow is one of my favourites. After the Wtch-hazel has done its thing, out comes the Forsythia which cannot be missed here in the Okanagan because every second or third property it seems has one.  Generally, the forsythia comes out in March and carries on well into April.

About the same time as the Forsythia, the yellow primula burst into bloom. This is one of the best early bargains found the garden centres as literally thousands come available at loss leader prices. When you have finished enjoying your primula you can plant it in the garden and it will return every spring to give you a show.

There is another blast of colour most gardeners would rather not have in their gardens or lawns and that is the common dandelion. Although in its own right the dandelion is actually quite pretty while in bloom, it is considered a scourge to most gardeners because hundreds of seeds are produced by each plant which “parachute” into adjoining properties it can become quite a nuisance. Dandelions begin to bloom in early April.  Another less common but important small tree is the Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry. This type of dogwood is ideal for anyone looking for a small well behaved tree for a tight space.

Another beautiful yellow spring flower is about to begin its show and that is the Aurinia saxatile formerly known as perennial alyssum. This common rockery plant is often seen in combination with Aubretia purple rock cress.

A final  thought when it comes to colour in the garden. About one in 12 men and about one in 200 women suffer from some degree of colour blindness. I wonder if this answers the question regarding the mish mash of colours we see in some gardens.

My dad used to say there is no problem combing any colours when it comes to flowers; I’m thinking he may have been one of those one in 12.

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