blue and orange (gbbd)

The color combination of blue and orange reminds me of noisy kiddie toys, of hard molded plastic waiting room chairs, of harshly lit 1970s fast-food restaurants trying unsuccessfully to look modern and friendly, or of jerseys for some high school football team. With two colors screaming at each other from opposite sides of a color wheel, it’s not a combination that brings me a lot of joy or peace.

But spring is here, and part of the far back yard has been blooming away. Its main colors are–you guessed it–blue and orange, mainly hot orange California poppies and sky blue flowers of nemophilia, baby blue eyes.

As much as I generally don’t love these colors together, it’s hard for me not to like this little zone of perky chaos.

Even the blue flowers against the brick hardscape reinforces the blue and orange (or blue and orange-red) colors.

But in a garden you hardly every have two strong flower colors alone. The varieties of leaf green serve as peacemakers, separating the warring colors and injecting their own shades into the garden color palette. Other secondary leaf or flower colors help the enrich the palette and keep the peace.

From some angles a softer blue-gray provides a background to the hot orange flowers. Here the foliage is the now-common chalk fingers, Senecio mandraliscae. It’s still a blue and orange theme, but the blue is less emphatic and the orange is permitted to dominate.

Little pockets of cool-colored plants provide areas of visual rest. Here’s baby blue eyes and chalk fingers with a dark purple-black aeonium. Pretend I cut back the dying narcissus foliage…

Some viewpoints let the cool colors predominate, with just a few punctuation marks of poppy orange. New into this photo are whitish-violet flowered black sage (Salvia mellifera), magenta freeway daisy (Osteospermum), with a softer orange-red desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) in the upper left corner.

I’ll have to rethink what the combination of blue and orange means to me, at least in the garden. These flowers may be gone in a couple of months. Maybe this a combination that I should embrace and associate with “spring.”

Spring is bringing lots of other colors combinations and other flowers to gardens around the world. Check them out at May Dreams Gardens, where Carol is hosting yet another Garden Boggers Bloom Day. Thank you, Carol!

19 thoughts on “blue and orange (gbbd)”

  1. Hmmm. I think freeway daisy should become the latin name. Maybe Freewaya daisii. I really like the shot of the poppies with the chalk fingers. I think it’s a really nice color combo. I guess I didn’t have this problem in my garden. The baby-blue eyes bloomed before everything else and the poppies come up with the purple phacelia, which is a nice combo. I kinda see what you mean though.

  2. Hiya James,
    I so agree with your feelings on orange and blue. Even orange by itself seems to have that effect on me. Hospital waiting-rooms favour it for some reason. Must have originated from some colour advisor somewhere 🙂
    Still, I enjoyed your combination of Escholtzia and Nemophilia in my greenhouse some years back. And that coloured foliage makes it look extra special.

  3. This was such an odd thing for me to read, because my absolute favorite flower color combination is reddish orange and bluish purple. Not really the colors of poppies and baby blue eyes, though – more the color of blue lupines, or some of the more purplish Ceanothus cultivars, with reddish-orange Sphaeralcea. Photographs of those plants together frequently push me to what feels like the brink of death-by-plant-lust.

    I actually agree with you, though, that baby blue eyes with poppies just don’t achieve the right effect. What I lust after is an approximately even spacing on the color wheel between the bluish purple flowers, the reddish orange flowers, and the (often) yellowish green of the foliage. Poppies and baby blue eyes are just a pair of complementary colors, instead.

  4. I love the yellow-orange of California poppies in the garden. It adds a little sizzle to the other cool colours. Thanks for sharing. Valerie

  5. Hi,James, Such beautiful color combinations! And great photographs, too. I enjoy so much seeing your California plants. I have thought about guerrilla-sowing California poppies in a field near me, but I doubt they would stand the heavy red clay. Maybe I will try anyway! 🙂 Thanks for your post.

  6. But is it really blue and orange? As I move closer, I see powder blue and white, and isn’t there a big black native bee in that poppy? — There usually is, for me.

    That’s what I like so much in the garden, and especially about the wilder flowers, all the echos and hues.

    Happy bloom day!

  7. Great color combinations. Bet you tried a few things out first before arriving at the right combinations blooming at the right times. My attempts at color coordination in the garden is usually a disaster – if colors work out, it’s by accident.

  8. I’m constantly in wonder how you manage to grow such a tremendous variety of plants in your yard…judging from all your posts, it sometimes seems you must have grounds as expansive as the Water Conservation Garden! Anyway, it’s all beautiful and impressive.

  9. Those were my Jr. High School colors…how nice that Nike had shoes in those colors that year (or years). I still can’t embrace the combo, although the orange still works for me. Love the California Poppies!

  10. I agree with Brad, the poppy with the chalk fingers is the best shot. Funny how foliage aways sets off a flower color nicely, but two flowers don’t always work together.

  11. Some lovely compositions there. Color is interesting and troublesome to me. sometime it would be interesting to do a black and white set of photos. Orange and red are much worse and that’s what I ended up with in one area – to be redone this fall. Reminder to self: plant annuals!

  12. Ah but I love it. Made my photo web site icon a field of orange with a blue center even. I don’t get the Burker King association but somehow something more continental. Plus I need color bad up here 🙂 Your combinations are wonderful, especially “cool spring palette with orange accents.” May I say I really appreciate the alt text on your images with good descriptions–something I often fail to do. Helps a lot!

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