Today is sunny and although cold, one can still see the grass has some green and the hydrangea heads are brown, but there is very little other color. I am a color sensitive person. My preference is for deep, jewel-toned colors and this is reflected in what I take photographs of and even the jewelry I make, as I get inspiration for my creations from nature. Recently, I told a fellow blogger that I often feel like Frederick the Mouse from the children’s book by Leo Lionni! In this story, Frederick stores color so that during the long, cold, and colorless winter he can paint images for his fellow mice, keeping them warm in mind and spirit. I guess you would say I have a special affinity for this story and Frederick, himself.
Let me walk you through some of the colors I’ve stored. The first color is not one of the deeper jewel tones I wrote about preferring. Unless, of course, you like Tanzanite! This Wild Blue Lupine is so warming when it blooms. This plant sustains the life cycle of the tiny Karner Blue Butterfly that lives in some areas of our state. I like it so much I ordered a whole tray of 36 plants from Prairie Moon Nursery this spring! I cannot wait to see a whole garden bed in bloom next spring! Set against a hosta in the background, it is stunning!
Wild Blue Lupine
This is Johnson’s Blue Perennial Geranium. It is one of my favorite plants when it performs well. I think it will be time to replenish it this spring, as most of my patches of Johnson’s Blue have died out. But, I do like the perennial geraniums in general, having a couple other species in my garden beds.
The vibrant fuschia of this orchid really lifts my spirits. It was my first orchid, three years ago, and has bloomed once a year since! So, I must be doing something right! My orchid collection has grown to seven plants and they always thrill me with a pop of color, even if it is only once a year (usually in the winter). The yellow, smaller orchid, below was a Mother’s Day gift from my boys two years ago. It has also rebloomed and now looks like it is almost time to repot. This is a lighter yellow than I usually prefer but does remind me of some of the Citrine gemstones I’ve used in my jewelry. The orchid society has wonderful resources on these plants, if you are interested.
Christmas Cacti are always a favorite! This is a plant that belonged to my Grandmother, residing in my mother’s house last fall. It was blooming at this time last year right before Thanksgiving. So, it could be called a Thanksgiving Cactus! These plants come in many colors. I like the red, salmon, or fuchsia the best. They are native to the Brazilian rainforest, where they grow as epiphytes (air plants), high on the trees – much the same as orchids! It is a true cactus as it has no leaves, what you see are modified stems! They also reproduce easily from cuttings! The bloom time depends on the photoperiod (length of daylight) to which the plant is exposed. This accounts for why some bloom at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. It is one of my favorite plants to use to teach a holiday garden club lesson!
This photo is filled with colors from phlox, buddleia, and a yet to bloom chrysanthemum. It also features a living pop of color with the swallowtail visitor.
It is the contrast of colors I love in this photo from our home apple orchard from years ago. The light blue spring sky in contrast to the whitish pink buds speak to the rejuvenating aspect of garden growth in the spring. For some reason, the color reminds me of pink quartz, light rose swarovski, or even opals.
The skies keep me filled with color during the winter months. We often have beautiful sunrises behind our home, and I capture them as often as I can. Very frequently they contain vibrant pinks, oranges, and yellows. On those mornings, it feels great to be alive!
I’m always look for unusual or colorful plants while on vacation. Here is a tropical hibiscus that is the bright sunny yellow I prefer. The pop of red at the throat really catches one’s eye. Swarovski makes a crystal color called Fire Opal. This bloom reminds me of those beads. It is sunny and warm.
I had to include this photo from this fall in the North Woods International School Gardens where I serve as the Garden Club Advisor. The New England Aster and the Rudbeckia are so disparate, they just pop out – each “saying look at me”, “no, look at me!” These are two colors that really provide me with warmth in the winter!
Ahhhh – you knew I’d just find a way to put milkweed in this post, didn’t you? If you’ve read any of my gardening posts, you know many focus on milkweeds and monarchs. This is rose milkweed, or Asclepias incarnata, growing behind our barn. The colors of the buds versus the open blooms are amazing! These plants are special not only because our visiting monarchs love them, but because one of my last groups of Evergreen Garden Club students planted them from seed. We obtained the seed from Prairie Moon Nursery.
My garden beds do have quite a collection of daylilies. While not my favorite plants, they do offer some vibrancy to the landscape in the heat of summer! They also allow me to enjoy their color all year when I look through my photographs! Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of all of the varieties I’ve planted.
Common Thistle, is a plant that grows natively here in roadside ditches and fields. Although thought of as a weed, it provides food for many pollinators. I also think it is beautiful in its own, unusual way!
These are some of the colors that will keep me warm and joyful during the long, cold, dreary days of winter. I’ve started storing the colors, just like Frederick the Mouse. I am sure I will draw on them for inspiration come January!
What colors inspire you or keep you warm? I’d love to know!