Sunday, October 11, 2009

Potty About Chartreuse

In a recent #FollowFriday on Twitter, Pat FitzGerald (@PatFitzGerald on Twitter and very fun to follow) labeled me as being "potty about chartreuse" based on my recent comments on one of his gorgeous new introductions. After I got over my initial shock of the use of the word "potty," (realizing that in Ireland it had an entirely different meaning)I thought he really hit the nail on the head. But I don't think he had any idea just how potty I am.

I think for many gardeners our taste in plants grows and changes throughout our lives. When I was in my late teens I was fascinated with black flowers and dreamed of an all black garden I would someday have. I wanted Watchman hollyhocks, Queen of the Night tulips and Penny Black Nemophila. The darker and more shocking the color, the better. I wanted to be shocking. I wanted a garden that would make the garden club ladies faint. But as I grew up, and became a tad bit less rebellious, the need to plant a garden that would affect others in a shocking manner lessened and I never planted the all black garden. I have over the years utilized some of the flowers, but never gave any Master Gardeners a coronary. In fact I did an almost complete about face, my first garden was an English cottage style with masses of well coordinated pastels. I planted foxgloves, delphiniums, poppies and even roses. I think it was about this time I purchased my first wide brimmed gardening hat. I knew who Rosemary Verey and Vita Sackville-West were and I wanted to be just like them... well maybe not the whole Virgina Wolf thing. My galvanized watering can, however, was stamped "Sissinghurst"

After this I went through a brief bold color period and realized how difficult it was to find orange and yellow flowers for the shade. I briefly toyed with pink when I noticed how lovely the last rays of light looked on the petals of the evening primrose. And then I noticed green. Not just any green, but chartreuse. A color that wasn't quite yellow, but yellow enough with enough green to be a close second cousin of lime.

I was shopping for a combination of shade tolerant flowers to plant in my window box near my newly painted red front door. I had settled on some warm red impatiens and searched for something trailing. That's when I first saw Lysmachia 'Aurea' and fell in love. Placed next to deep red of the impatiens I had a combination that was both unexpected and coordinated. A match that was slightly off center, but felt right somehow.

To date, my affair with chartreuse has been the longest running yet, going on about 6 years. Each year I stuff my planters with more Lysmachia and am overjoyed when something new enters my world like Lemon Fizz Santolina from Native Sons, Proven Winner's Illusion Emerald Lace Ipomoea or the yet-to-be-named grassy plant at Pat FiztGerald's nursery. The color still feels fresh to me, reminding me of an early spring green... on acid. It brightens shady areas and can hold it's own in the sun. It compliments my reds and oranges and can look totally shocking with bright pink. Throw in some purple and things can get really wild. But pair it with a rich burgundy or maroon and you can have something really classy. So yes Pat, you were right. I'm potty, really potty about chartreuse.

Here are a few new favorites:

Lemon Fizz Santolina from Native Sons

Illusion Emerald Lace Ipomoea (I swear no two leaves are exactly alike)

Do you have a color you are just potty about? Or perhaps it's a family of plants. Let us know in the comments.


  1. So what does Potty reat piece and we all have our favourites on a given time. Enjoy your Charteuse days Kat :) .

  2. Great post, Kat! I, too, love chartreuse and can't wait to try the new Santoline - thanks for the recommendation! (and I agree...I love Patrick's use of words...sometimes takes me by surprise!)....

  3. Kat - I'd love to comment more often but I prefer to use name/ url to post and not any of my private ID's like google or blogger!

    But I loved this post and what you had to say about wanting to shock the garden club ladies when you were a teen made me smile in memory of my own teen years - I felt exactly the same way!

    I love chartreuses as much as I love the darks. Thanks for profiling a few good ones to try!