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Cooling hues for hot summer days

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Lower the temperature with blue, white, green and pink

Article author:

Brian Minter

Release date:

19th June 2020 • • 8 months ago • • Read for 2 minutes Cool colors like purple, pink and blue not only calm you down, they also have a cooling effect, especially on the hottest summer days. Photo by Getty Images

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As we move into summer, no matter how the COVID-19 pandemic develops, most of us will spend a lot more time in our gardens, on our terraces and balconies, and the temperature will be both sunny and shady Places to be quite warm. However, there is a little trick that will help us feel at least a little cooler.

Lavender-colored heliotrope gives every garden a cool, relaxing ambience. Photo by Minter Country Garden

The way we use color can make a significant physiological difference in how we experience heat or coolness. In winter, I always recommend using warm colors in patio pots and in strategic color spots. Yellow, oranges and red wines, for example, especially winter pansies, have a warming effect of around eight to 10 degrees Celsius. The opposite is true in summer when we use cool colors like pink, blue, lavender and green. These cool colors also have a calming and relaxing effect.

This concept is worth considering when planning our summer planting color schemes. I am not suggesting that you give up on your favorite color combinations for a minute, but if you are open to change and creating a different mood, try some cool color combinations this summer.

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‘Angel Wings’ with its broad, velvety, silver-white leaves is a striking new Senecio. Photo by Minter Country Garden

Start with a cool focus like green canna lilies, dracaena spines, an architectural columnar grass like calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ or one of the many juncus like ‘fireworks’. For a touch of pink, try some of the new colorful dracaenas like ‘salsa’ or pennisetum (fountain grass). Annual salvias like ‘Victoria Blue’ and the shorter vegetative ‘Big Blue’ bring very effective shades of blue to your plantings.

Each of these focus colors should be complemented by the surrounding plants. Greens are nicely accentuated by silver like the many new varieties of Helichrysum, Artemisias and the thread-like Calocephalus. Soft cream petunias and mini-petunias (calibrachoas) add abundance to the entire look, as does the pure white of geraniums, angelinas and baby’s breath-like euphorbias.

Pink tones are the easiest to emphasize. Long flowering summer yearbooks like the many shades of pink geraniums, petunias, wax leaf begonias, and angelinas offer us great opportunities to love the sun. Silver accents, especially Plectranthus ‘Silver Shield’ and P. ‘Silver Crest’, work like magic with pink. Artemisia ‘Parfum d’Ethiopia’ is particularly attractive, and trailing silver dichondra creates an elegant note when used as an overflow plant.

Threadlike calocephalus is a great plant with a silver accent. Photo by Minter Country Garden

Blues may be a little harder to play. Blue petunias range from soft and medium hues to dark purple blue and are often well mixed together. The new varieties of heat-resistant blue lobelia make an important contribution to summer baskets and plantings. Soft pinks enhance the blue colors, as do the many silver plants already mentioned. With a little imagination, you can create combinations of plants that not only have a cooling effect, but are also remarkably peaceful and relaxing.

For shady locations, the new Imatiens ‘Imara’ and ‘Beacon’ are resistant to downy mildew and work well until frost occurs. Most silver foliage plants are also well adapted to shady situations.

Today, perhaps more than ever, we need the cooling, calming and stress-relieving power of plants. Please try these soothing color combinations this summer for a bigger impact in your garden and patio.

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Robert Dunfee