Tuesday, May 10, 2011


When I was much younger, long before I ever thought about putting my hands in dirt, I took note of one certain garden.  It stood out, not for what it had in it, but for what it didn't.

Where was this garden?  Texas.  In the summer.  Add those two up and you get - HOT!!!  Our summer temperatures get extreme (over 100F some years), our humidity is high, and it gets difficult just running from the air conditioning of the house to the air conditioning of the car without breaking a sweat.

Row after row of homes flaunted their red roses, their colorful zinnias, and their sunny marigolds.  This garden had none of that.  This garden was different.

This garden was done in all cool colors.  It was like a sweet, secret oasis.

I felt 10 degrees cooler just driving by it.

I've been thinking about that garden as the temperatures begin to soar.  And about plants that are visually refreshing.

Gardenias, hydrangeas, blue- and purple-flowered plants like buddleia (butterfly bush), salvias, laurentia (blue star flower), platycodon (balloon flower), and blue asters.  Evergreens, of course.  Soft greys like stachys (lambs ear), lavender, artemisia, nepeta (catmint), hostas.  Caladiums in green and white.

These are the plants that I'm enjoying right now.  What's your favorite 'cool' plant?


  1. What a neat post. I love cool colors in the garden. It might have to do with living in the hot, tropical climate that we live in. Although I do like blues and purples in my clothing too. I am adding more blues and purples as I can to the gardens.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  2. I do love blue flowers.. Especially the Hydrangeas. Your right about the look of them being refreshing.

  3. Awesome post! My fave cool plant for sure is lavendar and of course it does poorly here in my neck of the woods.

  4. I have a blue garden and have much of what you showed. It is hard to pick a fave, and each that bloom new each day becomes a favorite in its own right.

  5. My goal is continuing bloom and fragrance so it changes with what's blooming and smells good. Right now Oakleaf hydrangea and bay Magnolia look cool and smell good. Gardenias are less than a month away. Lilies, I have lilies. The good smelling ones haven't bloomed yet.

  6. What a great post for these hot spells... right now I'm loving my Lamb's Ear foliage and budding blooms 'Anabelle' Hydrangea to stay cool. I wish I had luck with lavender too...

  7. FlowerLady - I've been adding a lot of blues to the garden, also. And whites, although some whites seem cool, and others not so much.

    Jeannie - I'm so glad the hydrangeas here turn blue. I suppose I would love them just as much pink, but the blue ones are just so much more unexpected in a flower color. They are one of my favorite plants.

    ONG - So far, Provence lavender has done well. I'm venturing out into other lavenders to see if they will do for me, too. I have some places that are quite sandy, instead of our regular clay, so I think that helps.

    GWGT - A blue garden! What a wonderful idea! I can imagine sitting there with some iced tea. What a great spot to relax and unwind.

    Nell Jean - You are always ahead of me - my lilies haven't started blooming yet. But my gardenias are blooming! I can't believe mine are blooming before yours! I would love to have an oakleaf hydrangea. It's on my list!

    Lisa - I love lamb's ear no matter what time of year. Hydrangeas are another favorite. In addition to their cooling effect, they are nice to touch. So much nicer than petting a rose!

  8. Living in Wisconsin, we don't have as much heat as you do, obviously! But we do get into the higher temps occasionally and that's when I melt like a snowbank in August. I admire white gardens, there's just something calming about them and I love the way the flowers show up at dusk, too. I have yet to plant an entirely white garden, though its been on my list of things to do for years. I really like all of your plants, great ideas for a 'cool' garden.

  9. Cool tones are so lovely in the evenings. Whites are the main color I'm working on adding to the garden this year.

  10. I love cool colors, thanks for the great pictures! I have read somewhere that it is hard to come up with a cool color garden in a hot climate because most tropical plants have bright warm colors, and cool colors are what my husband calls "European colors" coming from colder climates. I am glad you can grow these plants - they are beautiful.

  11. Love your post. I love the blues and purples.

  12. I hope to be enjoying all those cool colours in the coming months! My entrance bed is starting to take shape and plants chosen include blues, purples and whites. I hadn't thought about how cool they would look but was thinking of it as 'soft' and easy on the eyes.

  13. I miss my lamb's ears, but I couldn't pull them thru the summer. Masses of plumbago blooming now, the colour of a perfect summer sky, and indigenous ;~)

  14. What an interesting idea...to create a garden that refreshes in the heat of summer! My favorite 'cool' plant would have to be hydrangea.

  15. Karen - I, too, have often thought about a white garden, but just haven't done that - yet. Perhaps one day. It would be gorgeous in the moonlight.

    Lynn - I've added a lot of whites this year, too. They really do seem to make other things pop.

    Masha - I think you are right on the colors and climates. Some days I just look at pictures, lusting after the cooler shades in certain gardens, but the hotter tones show up much better in our bright sun. There's just some days, though, I'm tired of the sun and the bright colors, too! :)

    Becca - I've really been looking for a lot more blues to add this year. I already have quite a bit of purple - it's always been a favorite color of mine.

    Marguerite - They will be soft and easy on the eyes. What a beautiful entranceway you will have! A lovely way to welcome guests.

    Elephant's Eye - My lambs ears get pretty scraggly here in the heat some years, too, but they always bounce back, then look good all winter. Plumbago! Thanks for the additional plant.

    Sage Butterfly - I love hydrangeas because of sentimental reasons. Otherwise, I might not have as many as I do. They wilt a bit here in the heat of the afternoon, but by morning they perk back up. Their color here is a perfect blue. Hard color to find in any plant, and worth a little extra water!


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