Turning the Yellowist on to Garden Yellow

Turning the Yellowist on to Garden Yellow

Jaunist. I was surprised when I first heard the word, but I think I deserved to be called out after openly stating that I had removed all signs of yellow from my yard. Daffodils in my garden? Thank you, but no thank you. Black-eyed Susans? Your destination is the compost bin. Being called out for my discrimination stopped my burning yellow anger in its tracks. I was wondering how I got to the point of avoiding all the members of a color family, by pulling out beautiful plants like the dreaded dandelions?

It was the search for harmony. The feeling of serenity, delight and balance of the garden comes from a pleasant mixture of colors, textures, height, depth, smells and sounds. In a flower garden, color is the most important element of our senses, and in my garden, yellow just didn’t play well with the others. He’s a bully. Lively and luminous, it attracts and holds your gaze. Too much yellow can make a garden look small and flat. Aggressive touches of yellow flowers overtake the other colorful flowers and leaves, turning them all into pips.

Nevertheless, I told myself that if I commit hate crimes against plants, I’d better be educated first. From jauniste to Yellowazzi, I followed the gardens with my camera and hunted for yellow online. It is not surprising that I quickly realized that my ignorance prevented me from having a relationship with a perfectly stunning color. Although I’m still not a fan of the harshness of a black-eyed Susan, I’ve found wonderful examples of how yellow can elevate a garden space through a variety of different uses:

Yellow in spring

The scorching summer sun casts a general yellow light in the garden, and the autumn foliage turns golden, signaling the end of a cycle and at the same time attenuating the impact of the yellow flowers. However, spring is the ideal time to introduce lemon shades. Bright colors when the days are shorter and the sky is gray can lift the garden and add sunshine to a rainy day.

A dramatic Canna with a bright yellow bloom dominating in the center of a circular garden, a yellow magnolia in front of a purple barn or yellow painted garden accents add a modern and dramatic statement in the garden. A citrus-colored watering can or a painted garden door will enhance an otherwise planted or shaded area of the garden, attracting you to the light.


A few selected variegated leaves with golden stripes, veins or marks between the otherwise green leaves will add visual interest to gardens with plants not intended for flowering. Hosta cultivars such as Chartreuse Wiggles, American Sweetheart or Liberty bring light to a wooded garden or a shaded terrace plant. Lemon thyme, variegated lemon balm and ginger mint add beauty and interest to a standard herb garden, not to mention a boost to your kitchen.

Softer shades and unexpected flowers

Butter yellow can be a wonderful alternative to the brutality of sunflowers and daylilies. A creamy and twisted German iris will attract attention due to its contradiction: a striking shape and a subtle color. A yellow primrose lilac is arguable in gardening circles because the elusive yellow flowers are often made in white or (sigh) purple. For gardeners who get the pale evening primrose flowers, this is a unique garden find worthy of bragging rights.

In the edible garden

Those who have seen a lemon tree in fruit probably do not need to be convinced of the beauty of yellow in the garden – the lush green leaves dotted with lemons are a beautiful sight. Although not all climates support citrus fruits, honey-colored fruits are possible in the edible garden with alpine strawberries, golden raspberries or plums. The trumpet-shaped beauty of squash flowers can turn into eye-catching Goldenrod zucchini, patypan Sunburst or yellow squash with a round neck, which makes them perfectly comfortable in a flower bed. Tomato plants also bloom yellow, with fruits ranging from white to deep gold. Try Golden Rave, a two-bite yellow Roma tomato that bears fruit on decorative rafters and adds extra sunshine to the tomato garden.

Color combination

In the formal or cottage garden, the opposites of the color wheel, yellow and purple, form a classic team. The modern garden is distinguished by a citrus palette of orange, lemon and lime to complement the repetitive and structural plantings. My favorite is the use of yellow and honeysuckle, a bright but earthy pink that rises to meet golden tones, perfect in a modern farmhouse garden.

I am proud to say at the end of my research that I am no longer a colorist, yellow or otherwise. I humbly recognize that yellow is an essential color for the garden and for nature; its brightness attracts pollinators and directs them to pollen or nectar. We humans have also clearly understood the power of yellow and use it to communicate warnings on traffic signs or school buses. It is the brightest color in the spectrum and should therefore be used with caution in the garden. Used correctly, yellow can add a joyful lift like no other color can. She is now taking a place in my cœur…et my garden.

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