Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hot colours

Maybe it's the intense, dry summer heat that has brought on the flowering of my zinnias – after all, they are natives of Mexico – but just one little punnet of scrawny seedlings planted on December 7 has turned into this riot of hot colour eight weeks later. I often tend to think of different flower beds as if they're musical bands, and zinnias definitely have a touch of the noisy, brash Mariachi band to them, trumpets and trombones blaring cheerfully in the dusty heat of the village square.

Lunchtime, in the midday sun, on February 7. One punnet, many colours, as promised. As for limiting themselves to 20cm wide and 20cm high as promised on the label, I don't think so.

I find it so hard to believe that this was my potato patch in early December that I plan to do a little blog soon on how this one patch, the sunniest one in my sunny backyard, has gone through such a wide range of uses, and personalities, in one year. Behind the zinnias are the marigolds and the potager patch, where the cool green parsley borders help to preserve some decorum.

Within the zinnia zone, the colours are many, varied and always hot. Reds aplenty.

Pink is definitely not one of my favourite colours, nor is Pam all that fond of it either – she's more of a green girl – but if you're going to be pink you might as well be really pink, like these zinnias, I say.

Orange is one of the more sneered-at garden colours amongst gardening writers, and if you're not an orange fan you can have a good old sneer at my zinnias.

More down the apricot end of the spectrum, these zinnias could almost stand accused of good taste but, being zinnias, that isn't really on the cards.

However, it's not just the zinnias laying on the fiery hues and blazing away in the midday sun. The Jalapeno chillies are chiming in nicely across the path with rapidly ripening reds.

And the marigolds reflect the sunshine with their orange and yellow pompoms. In fact the yellow marigolds reflect the moonlight nicely, too!

Yes, of course, my choice of summer flower colours is deliberately bright and cheerful, and that's because of the quality of the Australian sunlight. It's bright, dazzlingly bright. Several years ago, after spending a year travelling in Europe, the first thing I noticed when I arrived back here in Australia was the light. Always so bright, usually so clear, too. It took me a while to get used to it. Then, several weeks later, I was out driving around the countryside and the incredible beauty of the bushland and the bright Australian sky just hit me with such a powerful force that I saw everything here in a new light. I saw beauty all around me, and it's been that way ever since.

As an example, I just pointed my camera out the window and this is the colour of the sky above. Visitors to Australia often comment on the blueness of the southern sky, and I cannot help but agree with them.

Moving the camera lens around a bit further I caught Sol in all its merciless baking glory (or was it Sol who caught me?). In this kind of glaring heat and light, all subtlety of colour in flowers either burns to a crisp or merely fades from sight.

In summer here in Oz, it's only the eye-achingly bright colours that stand a chance of surviving more than a week or two. At other times of year it's a different story, fortunately – autumn, winter and spring are kinder to plants and people – but right now, in the middle of summer, razzle dazzle rules.


jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Nice to juxtapose your hot colours and hot temps with my cold temperatures (and escaping via hot colours). I don't grow zinnias because they want more heat than I can give them on my foggy hill.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie,

I think I'm new to your blog. I love your writing style and wit even if you do favor orange zinnias. :-) I bet your Australian air is much cleaner than here up north. Love your photos. That sky really is the bluest blue.

siskelkk said...

Great looking Zinnias, and so colourful. Wish i had thought of them when i was at the nursery impulse buying. Hope you aren't getting the ridiculous 46 degrees we are getting here in Melbourne!

Chandramouli S said...

Oh man, Jamie! I thought India was the hottest country next to African countries but see Australia gets hotter! That bright spotless blue sky says it all!
Well, your Zinnia Orchestra's sings a music that cools your mind, I'm sure. What a profusion! I love the marigolds and strangely they never germinate, despite being the most easiest to germinate!

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Sunita said...

I loved your comparison. They really do look like a merry band having a rollicking time and inviting everyone else to join in!
Zinnias are some of my favourite fling-the-seeds-and-let-'em-grow plants. So very easy to grow in India.

Antigonum Cajan said...

You would probably enjoy
Cosmus sulphureous, Turnera ulmiforme/diffusa, judging from your
pictures, preferences. Both are self seeding....

From a much smaller isle in the

Good blog..Until next.