Tag Archives: ‘Ruby Port’ Columbine

A palette emerges

It’s one thing to adhere to a “live with less” philosophy in the house. I don’t miss having cabinets full of dishes we never use, and nine months into this gig I’ve forgotten some of the possessions that are stowed in the Abominable Storage Unit because I JUST COULDN’T BEAR to part with them.

But limiting the palette in the garden – now, that takes some serious restraint. One of the things we love about the little house in Brenham is the color it’s painted – a soft gray-blue that also happens to be one of my favorite plant colors. So from the beginning, I had in mind to keep the front beds, at least, to a very strict color scheme using silver-blue, peachy-apricot and burgundy.


‘Frances Dubreuil’ close-up.

With the exception of a few ‘Grand Primo’ narcissus (creamy white with butter yellow cups), ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils (also white and yellow), orange calendulas (because I was desperate and couldn’t find the apricot ones) and the mystery poppies grown from seed a neighbor gave me, I was more disciplined than usual through the fall planting season. Even the trees fit the scheme, with three Arizona cypress and an olive. (My friend Suzanne did talk me into including a Mexican buckeye, which may fall more into the pink category. It’s just beginning to bud.)

A little bit of a cheat: a pot of dianthus and marigolds.

A little bit of a cheat: a pot of dianthus and marigolds.

The roses – typically my foundation plants – were easy choices, including ‘Frances Dubreuil’ (burgundy), ‘Adam’ (creamy peach), ‘Winter Sunset’ (another peach), ¬†and ‘Star of the Republic’ (another peach!) along the picket fence; ‘Crepuscule (golden apricot) on the arbor, ‘Maggie’ (deep cerise) on a tutor and ‘Jude the Obscure’ (cabbagey peach) who required yet another bed to be dug. ‘Abraham Darby’ may yet be moved from the back yard to join them.



The scheme is finally starting to show along the fence, with ‘Adam’ and ‘Frances Dubreuil’ putting on their first blossoms above growing tufts of Artemesia ‘Colchester White.’

'Frances Dubreuil' above Artemesia 'Colchester White'

‘Frances Dubreuil’ above Artemesia ‘Colchester White’

Plays nice with salmon-colored Salvia Gregii, too.

Plays nice with salmon-colored Salvia Gregii, too.

I love ‘Frances Dubreuil’ so much I’ve turned up the burgundy a notch with two new finds: ‘Ruby Port’ Columbine – amazingly rich little flowers dancing on skinny stalks, with buds that look as exotic as ancient, elongated tulips – and Indian Feather ‘Passionate Rainbow’, a guara that at least for now has burgundy leaves.


‘Ruby Port’ Columbine

You want just enough of this color to add depth but not so much it looks like a goth party. This isn’t The Addams Family garden!


‘Ruby Port’ Columbine (aquilegia) before planting.


Not sure it will thrive in our climate, but how could I resist? And if I want to build on the palette, the lime green and soft yellow are good candidates.