Colors illuminate the year ’round

Each month of the gardener’s year seems to have its own color, cycling at random through the rainbow of hues that make up the annual calendar.

As I looked out of my window thinking about this columnin in the last days of January, a strong wind was blowing around some tentative snow, not a full-blown snowfall, but just enough to cover the ground. And the ground is in sore need of a clean covering at this time. The dirty brown and dull green benefits greatly from a covering of white, and that clean palette is a good way to begin the year.

February has to be red.

From the red roses of Valentine’s Day to the cherry pie that keeps George Washington in our minds, everyone creating a display in this month chooses some rosy tones to liven up the dullness outside.

By March, the spring green is beginning to show, and of course the shamrock is often selected as plant of the month.

Actually, the plants sold as shamrocks are more likely to be some variety of oxalis, but who cares? I sometimes think St. Patrick would be utterly bemused an analogy he used to describe the trinity has come to represent Ireland in so many peoples’ minds. And he wasn’t even Irish!

April showcases all the pastel colors of the Easter season. The crocus, hyacinth and daffodil are blooming, and pale pink, blue, lemony yellow and mint green fit nicely with the promise of spring.

May has to be pink.

Cherry blossoms set the tone, echoed by the pink of dogwood, crab apples, azaleas, bleeding hearts and tulips, which I like better in pink than any other color.

When multi-colored annuals decorate our gardens in June, it is hard to pick a dominant color, but it all ties together under the intensely blue canopy of the summer sky.

Iris, lavender blue columbines, delphiniums, larkspur and forget-me-nots reflect back the color.

Then in July, the pink and pale blues deepen to red and blue and mingle with white to celebrate our heritage.

The brightest colors in the firmament glow in July as most of the perennials are blooming their hearts out and fall seems far, far away.

But then comes August, and the true yellow colors of sunflowers, black-eyed Susan, daylilies and the like hold the sunshine all day long.

With the first days of September, the yellows seem to deepen to shades of gold, goldenrod, dahlias, mums and marigolds lighting up the flower garden.

By October the gold has darkened to true orange and pumpkins take pride of place at farm stands and markets, and we are forced to recognize summer is over.

November is primarily brown.

Bare trees with the last drab leaves holding on for dear life, the foliage of perennials drooping and dying, this is a restful time for ending the growing season.

And then we are back again with a riot of color inside and out in December.

If we can’t have blossoms, we will string lights. If the trees are dark, we will dress them up. The year ends in a blaze of glory.

It is then we remember the gardener’s joy; no sooner is the old year over than the new year is beginning, and we can go back to the top of the page and start all over again.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State

University Master Gardener program. Contact her at