All-American blue and red in my garden


I threw a little soiree in honor of an out-of-town friend last week and got my garden all spruced up for the occasion. The last of the live oak leaves — or as close to last as I’m going to get — were finally banished, chairs and patios were scrubbed, plants were pruned, and pots were tidied. With flush spring growth, a shined up garden, and an overcast, lightly drizzling day, I took my camera out and made the rounds. As I did, I noticed anew how much I love a blue and red combo.


Typically I go for cobalt or royal blue, but more and more turquoise has been creeping into my garden. Witness my new door color, for example.


In fact it’s pretty ocean-hued on the upper patio thanks to a turquoise table, a greenish blue succulent dish, and a turquoise-striped rug.


More cobalt and red courtesy of a ‘Brakelights’ red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Brakelights’) in a blue pot, mulched with chunks of blue and turquoise slag glass.


‘Blue Boy’ Yucca desmetiana in a red pot


And a red Circle Pot from Potted with a royal-blue table in front. Moonshine-yellow motel chairs add a soft accent color. It’s not blooming yet, but cobalt-flowered Salvia guaranitica grows under the red hanging pot.


In case I forget where I live. That’s my new ‘Bubba’ desert willow in front. I’m excited to see its first blooms.


All shades of blue are welcome in the bottle-tree garden. Moby, my ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia), sets the tone with steel blue, but cobalt and turquoise pots and bottles add richer color to the scene.


A few red-leaved or -flowering plants under the bottle tree are putting on new growth: ‘Tropicanna’ canna, firecracker fern, red Salvia greggii.


Turquoise agave and pot — a painted pipe remnant, actually — and powder-blue leaves of ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus


A cobalt pot-style fountain and turquoise shed doors echo the color of the swimming pool.


A closer look. I like how the yellows of ‘Color Guard’ yucca and Mexican feathergrass and the forest-green of the clipped boxwood balls reduces blue to an accent color in this area, giving it a different feel.


A closer look at the semicircle of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas, backed by chartreuse bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa).


The ‘Wonderful’ pomegranate behind the arch is blooming, as are purple coneflowers and Jerusalem sage.


More purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I love having these cheery butterfly attractors in the garden.


Ah, there’s my favorite red again. I’ve planted a cypress vine on my metal arch this year and am loving the delicate twining of the vine and those lipstick-red flowers against the ‘Sapphire Skies’ Yucca rostrata.


A closer look


Out front, green is more dominant, with pops of red from a tractor-rim planter and a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). Toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in the tall pipe and ‘Jaws’ agave in the rusty tractor rim keep the greens going, as does ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo leaning in from the left.


Green, green, green, starting with ‘Green Goblet’ agave, which will eventually reach 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. But notice I snuck in a few coral-red salvias behind it, whose minty scent will, I hope, deter deer from antlering the poor agave next winter.


A wider view shows more lush greens — and my neighbor’s red-white-and-blue in honor of Memorial Day. I hope my fellow American readers enjoy today’s holiday. And to my dear husband on our wedding anniversary, you make life colorful for me. Thanks for 24 wonderful years and counting!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. TexasDeb says:

    Happy Anniversary! Here’s hoping you have another 24 years (at least) of happiness together.

    Your garden spaces are a delight, especially in the subtle light of a cloudy day when the color gradations are more easily appreciated. Maybe that is the attraction of turquoise outdoors at least in part – it is so visually soothing, even in the brightest light? I’ve always admired your use of repetitive elements to emphasize color, shape and visual direction. These photos are practically a case study – thanks very much for sharing them.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Deb. Yes, that cloud-filtered light makes the garden look color-saturated — like gardens in the Pacific NW. (Envious sigh.) —Pam

  2. Robin says:

    Pam, so pretty! I’m amazed at the use you’ve made of your bits of sun in your yard, with Jerusalem Sage and more. Things I never thought would be happy in a live-oak-shaded yard. Gives me ideas for my own part-shade, thanks. Good color and textural combos.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      “Bits of sun” is exactly right, Robin, and I’ve tried to make the most of them. I’m also learning which plants can take more shade than they might prefer. This Jerusalem sage gets about a half day of sun and then bright shade in the afternoon, and it does pretty well. —Pam

  3. Cheryl says:

    Your yard is so beautiful! I love that red pot in the first couple of photos. There are many of the same plants in my Sacramento yard but not put together with as much thought and foresight… I’m working on that!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Cheryl. Not to diminish any illusions, but I am showing the best views. There are plenty of areas that I’m reworking. :-) —Pam

  4. I love your garden and really enjoyed the little soiree, thank you so much for inviting us! Happy anniversary to you both!

  5. Alison says:

    Happy Anniversary Pam and thanks for the tour! The garden looks fabulous. I love the touches of red, cobalt blue, and turquoise.

  6. Happy Anniversary. May there be many more.

    Your garden is lovely…and, SO far ahead of mine. We just got back from two weeks away. I expected much more growth, while we were gone. This rain will help….I hope.

    Have a great Memorial Day.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Linda, thanks for the anniversary wishes. I hope the rain jumpstarts your garden’s growth. It’s been a very late spring all around. I still have areas with dianella and Mexican honeysuckle that are struggling back to life. —Pam

  7. Kris P says:

    Your garden looks beautiful, Pam! All the accent colors add zing. I generally lean toward cobalt blue and sea green myself but I have to say I love that red pot in the top photo.

    Enjoy Memorial Day and a very, very happy anniversary!

  8. Lucinda Hutson says:

    Oh Pam,

    Your lovely photographs look just as pretty as the garden did when I visited! Your garden is so soothing and beautiful and everywhere you look is a special vista. Love the pops of color–the cobalt, the greens and reds. Your specimen plants are so beautifully featured and your garden just gets better and better. Truly a work of art…and LOVE. Thank you for sharing with us! Enjoy the glorious Austin rain!

    Lucinda

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Lucinda, thank you for your generous words. I keep working on it, which is of course the fun of it. And yes, I’m LOVING the rain. Hope to see your garden later this week. —Pam

  9. peter schaar says:

    Happy anniversary Pam! The first twenty four years are the hardest, so it’s all pedaling downhill from here. I’ve been unconsciously copying you. I have four Hesperaloe ‘Brakelights’ in cobalt blue pots, two in front and two in back. I just planted my Y. desmettiana ‘Blue Boy’ in an island bed in back. Imitation is truly the sincerest form of compliment!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for your good wishes, Peter! Maybe I’ve been unconsciously copying YOU with the red and blue combos. They just go together, don’t they? Go bold! —Pam

  10. Tamara says:

    Such gorgeousness…thank you for the tour. I am so envious of your yuccas and agaves, they are spectacular. I LOVE the door color, too!

  11. Belated Happy Anniversary to you both – it’s such a gift to all of us to see happy marriages. Unfortunately, the bickering ones always seem to grab the headlines.

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