I know yellow is the color of sunshine, peace, love, happiness and all that, but I just don't care for it. There's just too much of it and it's EVERYWHERE. Wikipedia says yellow is the most common color for flowers.
Practically the first flower to emerge out of snow and mud is the hated dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Every late winter, enjoying the sea of little gold flowers, I mentally wonder what the world has against dandelions. And every year I remember soon enough, as we spend the year digging up tenacious dandelion roots and watching white puff-balls blow millions of fertile dandelion seeds everywhere.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote about dandelions in 1888:
|Innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.
Whitman thought dandelions were innocent? Most of us realize that they're anything but. They have a scheme to take over your land via underground stolons. Beware!
In February, many people cut a few forsythia branches to "force" indoors. In March, when the first forsythia blooms burst forth from what used to look like dead sticks, it is indeed exciting, for a minute. But when my yard and every other yard on the block are full of forsythia, some healthy, vigorous and well-pruned and some languishing or pruned within a branch of their lives, forsythia seems awfully common. There are plenty of more unusual early spring bloomers.
When I say common, I mean in the sense of "average, ordinary, garden variety." Dandelions are a common lawn weed and forsythia is a common attempt at landscaping an empty yard.
Daffodils come soon after forsythia, often before the snow has completely melted. They are also traditionally yellow. I planted white 'Thalia' daffodils, which bloom later than standard yellow ones, and increase yearly.
|When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
The poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) famously wrote of "crowds" of daffodils (above), but I think more in terms of gangs of daffodils. Careful planting of early- mid- and late-blooming varieties can give you a steady supply of golden daffodils from March until late May, should that be your wish.
Late April-early June sees hundreds and thousands of buttercups in the lawn. There are some 600 species of Ranunculus, many of which are called "buttercup." Whichever flower you call a "buttercup," it is yellow and native to where it grows. As children, we held buttercups up to each others chins and said "do you like butter?" Of course, everyone did. My yard is freckled with dots of buttercup.
By the time actual summer begins, after the solstice in June, yellow has taken over my yard. I didn't always dislike yellow; there is archeologic evidence in the Coreopsis I planted years and years ago. My Coreopsis refuses to be restricted to one bed or one part of the yard, and splashes its drippy, melted butter color here and there. It has been spreading steadily, inexorably.
I also planted Achillea or yarrow too long ago to remember, a yellow, weedy variety of Achillea all along the path. (There are other yarrows which are white or attractive reds and pinks; but not for me.) It has spread too, sunny circles of sunshiny golden goodness spreading throughout the dreary world. Grrrr. I even find yarrow volunteers in the back, which is supposed to be my haven from yellow.
I have forgotten why we planted black-eyed Susans, which blot the street-side of the yard with a smear of mustard-y yellow beginning toward the end of July. Black-eyed Susans are allegedly named for a Robert Burns poem about a person named "Susan", although the poem was probably written after the flower had acquired its name.
In July comes an onslaught of Stella D'Oro dayliles. There are certainly other yellow daylilies, but only Stella D'Oro (also called Stella Doro and Stella de Oro, meaning star of gold) is equally comfortable at a gas station foundation planting or hanging out at the mall. The first truly re-blooming daylily, Stellas are unbelievably sturdy and do, in fact, have flushes of rebloom off and on all summer. However there now exist many other reblooming daylilies that should be considered. Reblooming daylilies come in lots of colors, and now you can have a whole yard full of sporadically reblooming daylilies in a rainbow of colors. And you can certainly omit golden ones.
August sees all kinds of hideously yellow flowers in bloom, like sunflowers, yellow 'purple coneflowers' and cosmos. I just don't grow those because, well, they're often yellow. By the time I planted Helenium, I was actively looking for non-yellow cultivars. I liked Helenium as a nod to my sister Helen, as well as a reliable, easy-care, late summer bloomer. Most of the Heleniums available are yellow, however, but I traded with another Dave's gardener for seeds to "Ruby Tuesday' Helenium (which, as you can guess, is mostly red and not yellow).
There are fields of yellow marigolds and formal plantings of yellow canna lilies. It is really a difficult time for those of us who dislike yellow. (There must be others, right, it's not just me?) Even the weeds are yellow!
For painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), yellow was a favorite color, maybe because there were, in the late 19th cenury, novel, more stable versions of yellow paint to use. His famous series of paintings of Sunflowers (one is below left) were painted in 1888 against a yellow background while he lived in a "Yellow House."
For whatever reason, every flower seems able to be produced in a yellow version. I understand the color yellow is often masked by other colors present in flowers' pigments. Remove the other color, and presto, you have a yellow flower. That accounts for all the flowers that didn't used to be yellow and now have swelled the ranks of the spineless yellow perennial flowers. From Agastache to Zinnia, yellow flowers are just easy to come by. It makes sense that all the flowers that are daisy- or sunflower-shaped should be yellow; I think of them as third cousins twice removed. But the roses, sweet peas, geum and nasturtiums too?
Finally Setember comes with cooler temperatures and oh no, another bunch of predominantly yellow flowers. Everyone, the grocery store down the street and the church up the road, is selling yellow "hardy" chrysanthemums. In this incarnation, yellow is suddenly a FALL color, not a spring, summer, happy or sunny one. Suddenly the world looks like a display of "Harvest Gold" and leftover 1970s appliances.
The "hardy" chrysanthemums will live through frost, certainly, but not through real winter (probably—see this article). They are not "hardy" in terms of coming back next year, just in terms of lasting through this year. Luckily they come in nice oranges, corals, reds and purples. Unluckily the yellow and gold ones seem to be the most common.
I am not usually a negative person. It's just that for me, there is too much yellow available at certain moments of the year. My favorite colors are addressed in these articles, here and here among others. Yellow, to me, has a place as the stamens of pink flowers like crepe myrtles, or highlighting the pink of multicolored lantana cultivars, or even frosting the orange of nasturtiums. It makes the colors of blue and purple flowers even more intense, as in Iris reticulata 'Harmony'. I just want my yellow a little at a time, not all at once.
picture credit: thumbnail image c. Dinu of yellow cosmos, dandelion c. Melody, Sunflowers available in public domain.