Pink, expressed here with lilies, lisianthus, snapdragons, and roses, runs the gamut from pale and whispery to bold and assertive. Fill a container or garden with these colors and the sight of them will heighten your sense of smell. Pale pinks suggest innocence and well-being. Dark pinks and reds excite, suggesting grandness, power, and courage.
White flowers -- lilacs, hydrangeas, buttercups, even parrot tulips feathered with green -- have a purity that appeals to the weary, the overwhelmed, or the merely jangled. White is full of hope and promise, like a canvas primed but not painted. White is neither demanding nor stimulating, but rather soothing, restful, and calming. White promises a fresh start.
Blue and violet are the garden's harmonizers, able to mingle among clashing colors and generate tranquility. Hyacinths, tulips, iris, and hydrangeas excel at being "blue" in different hues. Studies have shown that the entire indigo family can slow the pulse, reduce body temperature, and even limit appetite. Blue flowers can help you feel serene and self-assured.
Yellow, yellow-green, and green hues act as visual stimulants. Add clumps or pots of yellow flowers at intervals in a garden to get feelings of warmth and joyous spontaneity. Green flowers, such as bells of Ireland and lady's mantle, dazzle next to the yellow-green rose "St. Patrick." Yellow-variegated hosta leaves and golden sage echo the theme.
Originally published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, July 2004.