In the nearly 35 years I have been here with you, following your other years with my Granny, I have more than once mentioned the value of chartreuse as a garden color.
It stands out from the crowd and catches the eye more than any other color, except perhaps its near kin yellow.
In fact, it hasn’t been too long since I featured chartreuse in this column, but it was at another season.
Then, a few days ago, I was taken by the plethora of chartreuse in one of my mixed borders, just as the ingredients there were morphing from their spring coat into summer wear.
The scattered chartreuse ingredients, many of which weren’t showing until recently, were (ahem) stunning.
There is a spirea, ‘Ogon,’ that is, of course, deciduous, but it sports little white flowers in very early spring, when a lot of purple bulbous plants are its partners.
The best thing, however, of that plant is its pale yellow, or chartreuse, foliage, good for the summer long and right up until excellent fall color takes over. Not far away is another shrub with similar foliage, a deutzia, ‘Chardonnay Pearls,’ a dwarf that grows to about three feet.
For a month in late April and early May it has white flowers that sparkle among the foliage.
Even before that, round white buds are strung along the weeping stems, thus the “pearls.” They are quite attractive for weeks, but the foliage lasts the season through, up until early frosts denude it.
Not quite chartreuse, but a pale yellow-green is a new dwarf nandina, ‘Lemon-Lime.’
This is a non-suckering nandina that grows to two feet or so, with the foliage color that stands out among its neighbors the year round, perhaps going tatty in a severe winter. It is a counterpart to its brother, ‘Gulfstream,’ which is green.
A year or so ago, I acquired a piece of “yard art,” in the form of a life size buck deer, an eight-pointer, in a bedding down position.
As much as I hate real deer, that destroy a big percentage of our garden by eating or horning, I just had to have the artificial one, much more lifelike than some of the little concrete ones with huge ears. My deer is made of metal, and a dark brown.
To complement it, I have planted five of the ‘Lemon-Lime’ nandinas in back of him to contrast with his dark color. C’est magnifique, according to Ann Looney, alias Victoria Sackville West. We can’t forget the yellow, but more properly chartreuse, hostas.
I have several spotted around in that same border. The area once was in sun, but gradually became more shady and I was obliged to adapt. Thus the hostas and other shade plants.
The “yellow” ones really stand out, with some “blue” ones nearby and a lot of greenery around.
A couple of relatively new ones have, also, red stems. These contrast nicely with the leaves, although to get full effect the leaves must be pulled back.
Incidentally, many of the hostas of this color will take a lot of sun and, in fact, need some sun to fully color up.
I might have mentioned before, but will do so again, the relatively new ‘Pedee Gold Ingot’ liriope, or monkey grass. It is a true chartreuse in light shade, but more brilliant in full sun.
The flowing grass-like leaves of this monkey grass are a fine contrast to the other plants already mentioned, and it was a real breakthrough for gardeners when it came along. It is just as easy as any other monkey grass, which, by the way, have more uses than lining a walk.
Individual clumps make fine perennials and even provide pale blue flowers in late summer.
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.