It's difficult not to associate pastels with pretty as in pretty in pink or Gertrude Jekyll's pretty pastel drifts. Or classical or romantic, so not surprisingly in my own efforts at color schemes I've been drawn to the more unusual. It was actually at Sissinghurst that I first encountered the idea you could color a garden in quite a radical way, and it wasn't the White Garden, it was the Cottage Garden.
It was particularly radical because it was a 'cottage' garden - traditionally a dreamy romantic, pastel picture. Instead, Vita used pungent, spice colors, oranges and yellows contrasted with dark yews, bronze fennel and the verdigris of a huge copper container. It was irreverent and genius. I saw it at the end of the day when the light darkened and softened everything. It glinted off the cottage windows and cast a dark and golden magic spell that I carry in my head in vivid detail to this day. If the rose garden started me off on the notion that gardening was really something I wanted to get into, then the cottage garden is the one, of all the gardens I have visited, that I have tried to emulate the most.
Not that I don't enjoy looking at pretty pastels in a garden in fact here are three great images from the past few weeks, a drift of pink achillea and a cloud of lemon yellow santolina billowing onto a path, both at Wave Hill. In Mamaroneck powder puff pink spirea and porcelain blue hydrangea greet visitors at the front of the house.