Consider color now in planning your summer garden

  • Take a look at a color wheel if you desire a flower garden as beautiful as those at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

    Take a look at a color wheel if you desire a flower garden as beautiful as those at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

By Tim Johnson
Chicago Botanic Garden
Posted2/10/2019 6:00 AM

Color is a common design element in the home garden to consider as you plan for the 2019 growing season.

Complementary colors such as orange and blue are opposite each other on the color wheel and can create bright, vibrant effects when combined in the garden.

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Harmonious or analogous colors such as yellow and orange are next to each other on the color wheel and create a visually harmonious effect when used in the garden.

Combinations of hot colors such as reds, yellows and oranges create bright and exciting displays in the garden. Hot colors tend to leap forward in the landscape.

Cool colors in shades of blue, violet and green can create a soothing and tranquil effect in the garden. Cool colors tend to recede in the garden and can be used to exaggerate the illusion of depth in the garden.

• Continue cutting buckthorn out of native and garden areas during the winter. The ground has a good freeze in it, so damage to other plants from the removal process will be minimized.


There will be less impact on herbaceous native plants when this work is done on frozen ground. Be sure to treat stumps with an herbicide such as glyphosate or triclopyr to kill the root system.

Glyphosate needs to be used at a high enough concentration to work as a stump treatment. Some recommend a 50-percent concentration -- the Chicago Botanic Garden staff has had success with a lower concentration of around 30 percent. One of the drawbacks with glyphosate is that it is water based so it cannot be applied in freezing weather and is only effective on the cut surface. Triclopyr is the preferred method because it is oil based, effective through the bark and on the cut surface and will not freeze.

• Clean crusty clay pots by adding one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soaking the pots. If the pots are heavily crusted, then scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking them for 12 hours.

• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden,

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