“I don’t like yellow.”

A strange comment, especially from someone whose garden was awash with golden daffodils and zingy yellow primroses.

Royal View

I believe that the fashion for disliking yellow, a fashion quite entrenched in certain parts of the UK’s gardening community, originated from a comment made by the then Prince Charles (now King Charles) about disliking bright yellow Dahlias at Highgrove, his private residence.

European Primula vulgaris thriving and spreading joy

I’m all for taste, good or bad.

I don’t like spicy food, but I bet some of you reading this will. We’re all different and that’s great; the world would be a dull place if we all liked the same thing.

Some gardeners really love Acacias, also known as ‘mimosas’

However, and this is a mystery to me, there are people in the gardening community to are easily swayed by those who express their opinions.

Think For Yourself

I like to think of myself as something of a ‘free spirit’.

While I know some see me as cantankerous, unnecessarily provocative even, the truth is that I’m drawn to the things around me. While some gardeners are offended by bright colours I see them as part of life, and I refuse to allow myself to be drawn to offence by them. There are things I like more than other things, but I see no point in being aggravated by the existence of things that do me no harm.

The flowers of Caltha might seem a bit too bright for some

I’ve even come to respect and admire certain colours, those that shine unapologetically in the garden. I might be a little less inclined to grow brightly coloured plants with a very long season, but the eye-gouging pinks of Camellias and azaleas in spring, for example, are perfectly fine because they only last for a few weeks. But this is my taste.

I love to encourage gardeners to see plants and gardens, including their own, differently. I would also be mortified if someone held me as an arbiter of good taste. Yet there are gardeners out there who doggedly follow the tastes of others, regarding their ideas as gospel rather than guidelines. It must surely be acceptible to enjoy our favourite colours in our own homes and gardens…

Redefining Yellow

I have a confession to make.

A few years ago I realised that there was this predisposition toward hating yellow plants. I realised, however, that there was a loophole; if you don’t actually use the word ‘yellow’ to describe a flower then you can bypass the negative reaction.

The golden flowers of Cornus mas, the ‘cornelian cherry’, seem to be universally appreciated during winter

I’m not lying to people. I’m using words like ‘golden’ or ‘lemon’ to describe flowers, not just ‘yellow’. The colour is the same but the association is different. While ‘yellow’ might be lodged in some minds as ghastly and obnoxious, ‘gold’ is a warm and desirable colour and ‘lemon’ is lively and refreshing.

Who wouldn’t like a yellow Erythronium?

They’re shades of yellow, but they’re somehow better…

Drawing A Line

Using colour in the garden well can take a bit of care. Contrary to popular belief, you can indeed have too much of a good thing!

Strong colours can be challenging in large doses, but if the colour is in the flower and the plant only flowers for a short period then it’s not really a problem. The colour might well be a little strident for a few weeks but it will pass.

Daffodils bring much needed cheer after a dull winter, but might not be as appreciated if they flowered in summer

What can be challenging is coloured foliage; a mass of yellow, purple or variegated foliage can be a little too overpowering in a garden, and should be used with care. Should still be an option for us all of course- foliage colour is another design option at the gardener’s disposal- but with a little forethought so that it adds excitement but doesn’t end up overbearing.

This golden ‘dogwood’, Cornus alba ‘Aurea’, is a great shrub to lighten a dark corner, but you can have too much of it!

It’s rained pretty solidly for the last nine months here. The ground is saturated and every day I must dry my coat yet again. I need joy. I need happiness. I need cheer.

The bright yellow spring flowers bring me a little sunshine on a rainy day, and I cannot tell you just how much I’ve come to appreciate them.

(Top tip: statistically speaking, August can be a surprisingly wet month to visit the UK. July or September can be much drier and warmer. Of course nothing is guaranteed; Britain’s reputation for rain is not unfounded!)