August is probably the month when my garden looks its absolute worst, as so much of it has been cut back and I have never really focused on having a spring garden, preferring to concentrate my efforts of summer and autumn flowers. However, I do have some splashes of colour here and there, and the blooms that have been capturing my attention this week are the yellow ones, in various shades and tints. I have always regarded yellow as being the most cheerful of colours, and heavens knows, we need some cheering up at the moment. Apparently, yellow is the most luminous of hues, so is perceived by the eye most readily, before other colours. It is like a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day, and somehow generates a feeling of hope and optimism.
Yellow flowers also seem to embody the spirit of spring, so are especially welcome at this time of year, when that exciting season is just around the corner. I was surprised at how many yellow flowers I could find in the moonscape of my garden as it is currently. There are so many shades and tints of pure yellow, and it can also veer towards cool greenish-yellow on one side of the colour wheel or warm yellow-orange on the other. For brilliant yellow at this time of year, the classic jonquil 'Soleil d'Or' has to be hard to beat. Mine are starting to fade now, but their jaunty flowers and exquisite fragrance have brightened my day for the past few weeks. Another flower with an intense yellow hue is Calceolaria mexicana (ht 30 cm), a cute self-seeding annual with neon yellow 'pocket' blooms, which grows well in a partly shady, fairly moist spot. I received the seedlings from a friend, and am hoping they will return each year. Other annual plants that come in happy yellow hues include nasturtiums, pansies, Calendula and polyanthus, and these are all starting to bloom now.
Amongst shrubs in flower in August, there are many sorts of yellow in the stalwart Abutilon tribe, ranging from deep golden-yellow to the palest of primrose tints. These shrubs flower from March to November in Sydney gardens but I think they are at their very best in late winter and early spring. Justicia aurea is still blooming in my garden, with its dazzling clear yellow tousled heads. The dainty tubular-bell flowers of its cousin the firefly plant (Justicia floribunda, syn. Justicia rizzinii) are yellow for half their length, mingled with orange and red hues. This plant really sparkles at this time of year. I grow mine nearby some yellow-flowered Abutilon. Another plant I like to pair with the Justicia shrubs is the bold bromeliad, Aechmea caudata, which in late winter sports a long-lasting inflorescence with yellow florets held in reddish bracts, on branched spikes up to 1 m in height. All these plants can grow in part shade, so they light up these areas well.
In sunny parts of the garden, there are numerous daisy flowers in many shades and tints of yellow out now. Euryops chrysanthemoides and Euryops pectinatus continue to offer their bright yellow blooms; Marguerite daisies also include soft and strong yellow flowers in their colour range. At groundcover level, Gazania have yellow-flowered forms: these drought-tolerant plants make an excellent weed-suppressing mat in a hot, dry position. I like seeing all these partnered with white daisies: yellow and white is such a crisp,fresh colour combination.
Amongst perennials, Cymbidium orchids have many cultivars with various shades and tints of yellow, and these remain in bloom for a long time. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a succulent perennial with lacy posies of bloom in late winter and early spring, and it has some lively, yellow-flowered forms. Creamy-yellow forms of Clivia miniata will soon be opening their gorgeous funnel-shaped flowers in shaded spots - I love seeing this soft tint of yellow with the pale blue blooms of forget-me-nots and Iris wattii along with shrubby Salvia roscida and Eranthemum pulchellum - all shade tolerant. The combination of yellow and blue is one of my favourite colour schemes in the garden!
Yellow flowers can find colour echoes with variegated foliage shrubs that include the same hue. The best one of these in my garden is Euonymus japonicus 'Aureo-variegatus', which can grow in sun or part shade. Duranta erecta 'Sheena's Gold' is a plain gold-leaved plant that can look striking with flowers of a similar colour grown nearby. These two shrubs grown together can be a satisfying year-round, yellow-themed picture in themselves.
Let me know of other yellow flowers that are brightening your day at the moment!
19 Sep 21
Meet some of the ferns that grow well in Sydney,
A garland of daisies
12 Sep 21
Daisies seem to epitomise spring and there are lots to choose from for Sydney gardens.
05 Sep 21
September sees some beautiful and easy-going shrubs come into bloom in Sydney.
Borage and kin
29 Aug 21
The herb borage has some easily grown relatives.
22 Aug 21
Many plants need rejuvenation after a few years.