Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
July, 2006
Regional Report

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Bold blue chaste tree holds the power to cool the summer scene.

Cool Blues

On a hot afternoon the colors in your garden can make the difference between it feeling like an oasis or a mirage. For flowers, hardscape, and furniture -- think blue!

Powerful Cooling
Bright yellow and red will warm your heart, too much at 4 p.m. in July. Keep shades of blue close at hand, the icier the shade, the better. Blue chaste tree sets the standard for color with a cool attitude, as does plumbago. Go further into that plant group to grow sky flowers (Duranta). At least three varieties are widely available, including ones with yellow-edged leaves and white edging on frilly blue flowers. With several heights to choose from, you can put blue into sunny shrub beds or use sky flower as small trees around the patio. The tropical region can also enjoy butterfly bush (Clerodendrum ugandense) and queen's wreath (Petrea) for blue flowers in any sunny spot.

Combining Blue and Other Colors
Because blue shades fade first as twilight approaches, consider carefully the other colors you pair them with. Whites and pastels offer contrast and additional cooling effect when combined with blue. Grow a column covered in blue clock vine intertwined with moon flowers, or blue hibiscus or althea in combination with white and pink 'Disco Belle' hibiscus. But plan for more of the blue-flowered plants to keep the colors in balance when the sun is setting.

Beyond Plants
Don't overlook benches, fountains, hammocks, and chair cushions to bring soothing blue into the garden. Add a blue chair, tablecloth, or garden flag to your color scheme; fill a blue pot with pink petunias; even paint the deck in stripes of navy or royal blue. It may not register on the thermometer, but the blue will cool you.

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