Garden Color Inspiration


Here in California the warm weather seems to be here to stay and more than a bit early. Even in drought conditions plants are starting to grow, sprout and flower, which of course has me doing a mad dash to clean up the garden, and get it ready for Summer. Some of my plants, like the ivy above with one of my ceramic masks peeking out, doesn’t need much care other than some trimming of dead growth. It can take some time but I find it calming and it lets my mind wander, often inspiring my artwork. However when I started cleaning the garden this time I got to thinking about how my art supplies were not really in any good order than could immediately inspire me.


Letting the colors of the garden be my guide I started to sort some of my jewelry supplies. A lot of my bead and jewelry supplies I often sort by type and shape, but, while practical, that doesn’t give me an idea of what color tones I have. I complied a majority of my green tone glass, crystal, pearl and acrylic beads, picking ones that reminded me of all the shades of greenery in my garden. By taking them off their stringing cords, putting them in a recycled plastic container, I was able to put more beads in one container, giving me a green hue inspiration selection at my fingertips.


With the ivy being such a great color inspiration I went back to the garden for more. Aquilegia or otherwise known as Columbinea hardy perennial, I have growing in my garden after I found out it does amazingly well in our arid climate, as long as I keep it in part shade. With the weather being so warm these little lovely flowers popped up quick, giving the local butterflies food and the garden little clusters of color.


I bought a pale purple rose bush some years back to add to my collection of roses; however it never did well in the ground so I transplanted it into a large pot where it grows marvelously, producing small, compact, citrus smelling, pastel purple roses that turn pale pink in the hotter temperatures.


Using the columbine and roses for my next color mix inspiration I gathered all of my pink and purple beads for my next container. I seriously had no idea how many pink crystals I had bought until put them all together!


My next color pallets came from flowering Iris. While originally I didn’t know much about iris plants, I have grown to love theses easy going and stunning plants. My first iris plants came from my mother who decided to give me several from her mystery mix collection of iris she bought from a local iris society. They turned out to be a collection of large Bearded rhizomatous irises, in all kinds of wonderful colors. After seeing these lovely plants grow it is no surprise the word iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow.

While currently there is no true red iris available, there are deep purples, pinks and brown iris hybrids that iris growers have carefully grown over the years. The lovely one above is a variety of Iris known as “Dynamite” from Schreiner Iris Gardens. It grows fast, has lovely large blooms and is prolific.


I let my iris continue to grow, just transplanting new plants into more pots each year. Like many hybrid plants the high heat and arid climates put non-native plants to the test. In this case iris love the sun and bloom in hot temperatures, such as these lovely deep maroon iris, most likely from the “Infrared” line of iris by Joe Ghio.


With those flowers as my guide Czech Fire Glass beads, Pressed Glass beads from India, Embossed Ceramic focals, and red acrylic flowers easily found homes in this rich color pallet.


This plant had not bloomed last year due to a insect infestation, but thankfully a swarm of ladybugs decided to congregate in the garden saving my iris and roses, allowing for this beautiful splash of color to finally bloom this year. While a bit smaller than other bearded iris, it more than makes up for it with warm honey and marigold colors.


Those wonderful earthy tones had me gathering up warm browns, yellows and unusual bright beads. African Trade Beads, Venetian Glass Beads, Swarovski Crystals, hand crafted ceramic beads and carved cattle bone beads fit perfect in this collection.


As of this posting, my collection of snow white iris have just started to bloom. Named “Skating Party”, a tall bearded iris, first registered by Larry Gaulter in 1983, is attractive to bees and butterflies. Off to start going through my whites, creams and satin tone beads….:)

Until Next Time, Safe Travels!