In recent months, The Southern Gardener has been exploring the enormous role of color on our cultures, our personal lives and especially our gardens.

We are becoming familiar with the color wheel, an invaluable tool for artists, gardeners and anyone interested in the use of color in their surroundings. It is especially handy for those who feel insecure about designing with color.

This week’s color is not only full of joy, it represents happiness, creativity and shines during the four seasons of the year.

It is the color of sunshine.

It is the worldwide symbol of caution, i.e., traffic lights warning the driver to proceed carefully or stop.

It is the color of the big rectangular school buses transporting our children.

It can also be the color of cowardice, whereas in Japan it is the color representing courage.

It is the color of bananas, summer squash, egg yolks and lemons.

It is often associated with the deity in religions such as Hinduism and those of ancient Egypt.

It is the color of remembrance as we hang ribbons anticipating the safe return of loved ones.

It is the color of newly sharpened wooden pencils and boxes of crayons, triggering childhood memories.

Sadly, it is the color of the patches cut in the shape of a six-pointed star that Jewish individuals were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

The color is, of course, yellow, the brightest color in the color wheel. Yellow is a pure color; it cannot be created by combining any other colors. Yellow, red and blue are the primary colors on the color wheel.

Yellow is a warm color — as opposed to violet, a cool color. Red and orange are also warm colors.

Yellow is used to create orange-yellow, yellow-orange, green-yellow and yellow-green. These are harmonious colors. The sit adjacent to each other on the color wheel. They get along well with each other.

Colors located directly opposite each other on the color wheel are complementary colors. They have no relationship to each other, yet they go hand in hand in the garden. Yellow and violet sit across from each other on the wheel. Yellow and purple (or violet) make a fabulous combination. ‘Goldsturm rudbeckia’ and ‘Purple Homestead’ verbena are a terrific duo.

Yellow, like other bright colors, pulls the viewer in. It can be especially useful if your garden is far away from the spectator.

Yellow sparkles! Like the sun, it glows. Include yellow blooms (or yellow foliage) in containers and flower beds for a bold exclamation point.

Yellow grows well in full sun. There are a few shade lovers, such as epimediums, that sport yellow flowers.

Although yellow brightens many combination of colors, it can also stand completely on its own. Include a monochromatic garden in your landscape, one featuring a single color. For this example, use all yellow, but in different shades or shapes. Include foliage with different textures in your monochromatic garden to liven it up even more.

Could there be anything more eye-catching and cheerful than a bed of yellow daffodils?

Woody shrubs such as forsythia (or yellow bells) are covered in bright yellow flowers in the early spring. The yellow blooms on a kerria cheer up a partly shaded area.

Gingko trees leave a trail of gold when they drop their yellow foliage in the fall.

Let us be optimistic gardeners. Plant our gardens and fill our lives with yellow: sunshine, joy and happiness.


• Marigolds seem to glow in the summer garden but sometimes begin to shrivel in the summer heat.

• Melampodium is a delightful summer annual that may provide longer-lived yellow color than the marigold. Like most summer annuals, it is not drought tolerant.

• Zinnias with varying shades of yellow flowers handle the summer sun and heat with ease. Whether it is the narrow leaf zinnia (which does not get mildew) or the fantastic ‘Profusion’ zinnia or the old-fashioned zinnia we all love, be sure to include vivacious zinnias in the summer garden.

• Chrysanthemums provide traditional autumn color. In addition to the ubiquitous presence of yellow florist mums on every porch and Halloween scene, gardens can boast a perennial yellow mum (‘Mrs. Hathaway’).

• Pansies keep the late fall, winter and early spring gardens lively with their cheerful faces. Pansies dislike the heat and will stretch and pout if planted too early or if the spring days turn very warm. A yellow pansy face, however, is hard to top.

• The soft yellow shades of snapdragons are charming. They brighten the winter garden and shine in early spring. They are a perfect companion to a bed of purple pansies.


• Day lilies come in dazzling shades of yellow (in addition to other vibrant colors). ‘Hyperion’ is not only a delightful shade of yellow, it has a wonderful fragrance.

• When most gardeners think of yellow daylilies, they think of those that are known as rebloomers. ‘Happy Returns’ and ‘Stella de Oro’ (more of a gold but still in the yellow family) bring yellow home. A monochromatic look would be great with a combination of the ‘Stellas’ and ‘Happy Returns’.

• ‘New Gold’ lantana is one of the most frequently used perennials with yellow flowers. It is surely a basket of sunshine. Lantana is a natural draw for butterflies. It performs well without much attention, returning each year.

• ‘Goldstrum Rudbeckia’ is the yellow lover’s dream. This care-free perennial spreads, making a mass of sparkling yellow blooms.

• One of my favorite perennials with yellow flowers is Threadleaf, or ‘Zagreb’ coreopsis. The narrow leaves provide a perfect background for the bright yellow flowers. This coreopsis spreads; it is not a pest, but could be our best garden friend if we cherish yellow. This perennial is as tough as it is beautiful.

Sherry Blanton, “The Southern Gardener,” writes about gardening for The Anniston Star. Contact her at Follow her on Facebook at “Southern Gardener-Anniston Star.”