I catch my breath every time I enter the garden through the front gate and turn towards the house. The copper garden has grown huge, a bower of bright and dark coppery colors celebrating autumn early. The Coleus have gone to flower and the ornamental sweet potato leaves are lacy with insect nibbling but the color! The brass section of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was magnificent this weekend in its performance of “Pictures at an Exhibition” – it seems those grand brass flourishes have translated directly into the September garden. I turn to look down the stone steps and the color continues, like a brilliant fanfare of red and gold and every shade between. I look up at the decks from the side and deep warm colors overflow from every pot and hayrack.
After a large tree fell on the decks last year, I had an opportunity to refurbish the renovated spaces. I was inspired and challenged by garden artist Keeyla Meadows’ remarkable book “Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener’s Guide to Jumping Off the Color Wheel.” I have worked with color in the garden for years, but this book stretched my notions of what was possible. I took the plunge into bolder color on the upper deck, inspired by a Mad Mats outdoor carpet and my love for dark foliage. This was the opportunity to revel in the warm tones – apricot, peach, gold, orange, rust, burgundy. I painted a table and chairs, added a bench with pillows, and filled up pots and hayracks with ornamental sweet potatos, petunias, Agastache, Million Bells, zinnias, and cherry tomatoes. It has become my morning haven, the perfect place to drink in a large draft of glorious color while I write and think. Unexpectedly, it has also become a haven for bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The deck is small and perched high among the treetops, a promontory for viewing the garden below. In another month, the trees will shift from summer green to the gold and scarlet of autumn – I look forward to a spectacular flourish to end the gardening concerto for another year.
All photos and text of “Brass Fanfare in the Garden” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved