It’s no secret how monochromatic themes take skill to pull off well. But contrast is easier, and we have all the light and shadow in the world to play with in the Great American Southwest.

Some thoughts…last winter to this fall, along 300+ miles of I-10 –

do you see what I see? (Saguaro National Park W of Tucson)
spring warms late winter in the low desert…Penstemon parryi in the shadows of an eroded arroyo…

Discrete splashes of flower color within bold forms, often beat “crazy color quilt” rehash in the garden, too.

this subtlety was almost missed in the dormant tangle of Jatropha…
a lone Mexican Gold Poppy / Eschscholzia mexicana

Even an uber-mild winter in Arizona and California plus drought, brings about a few tougher flowering plants to pop, regardless.

red, green, another touch of bloom from Hesperaloe parviflora…

In February, already in bloom…but over the hills and 1500′ lower than me in the warmer Sonoran Desert. I usually comfort myself with how hot their summers are compared to ours…#payback:-)

sunlit Bouteloua gracilis ‘Hachita’ at my ’07 design at Sierra Providence East, dark walls…summer fades reluctantly…

Grasses dance for pollinators and people alike. One can step on these grama grasses, and they bounce back, which is why they are placed near parking spaces where people get in and out of cars.

Not sure where my contrasting, blue-green sotols are within the grama grasses, maybe my angle…but they are there…for contrast.

SPE MOB-PlantsBldgSky-Sml
crisp fall days change the skies, light and foliage…Pistacia chinensis…
and dry desert plantings vs. a discrete carpet of lawn, at the latest spot to get part of my design…

If you haven’t noticed, I certainly like blooms but appreciate how we can get impact and even color in our outdoor living spaces without one petal.

Any ways you embrace contrast in your life or garden?


5 Replies to “Contrasty”

  1. Contrast makes the rest of it work. The tiny pink penstemon packs such a punch along with the touch of the yellow and coral in the other photos.

    You’re right…including all the subtle colors behind that arroyo pair of penstemons.


  2. Love those contrasts…and grasses!

    I am just evolving to notice such things, and applying them just recently.

    Whole. New. World.

    Thanks H.G., a profoundly simple solution to garden problems + having a great space!


  3. Personally, I love the flowers in the desert and love when you share your photos of them. Thanks.

    You’re welcome, we are both in a cool part of the country to see such rarities!


  4. I don’t think this is quite answering the question you asked, but…

    I rarely embrace anything in my life that wasn’t planned for or fully anticipated (I am not one of those “loves surprises!” people) but in the garden? I am endlessly delighted by the contrast provided between what I thought I was doing with my planned plantings and what actually happens after weather, critters and the occasional foot traffic are overlaid.

    I feel free to claim the bits that work (“oh yes – I expected that!”) and relegate the bits that don’t (“oh – the deer did that”) to ignominy.

    We sounds like kindred spirits…plan so you have time for randomness. And in the garden, I hear you, sometimes just the right light or temperature can do something it never will again…I still remember a hot, sunny summer afternoon at my old house (early-May 2002)…I sent the pics to a nursery friend that I saw going out to get the mail during my work day. Ignominy…true!


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