I am in the midst of designing annuals for the municipal summer display in planter boxes and medians in the central business district. It is interesting to design something that is totally for public consumption as I create a plant palette that I would never, ever use anywhere else. A successful display seems to rely on color schemes that are boldly distractive. I put together a collage of pictures and I know I have the right combination when, to be honest with you, it vaguely irritates me to look at it. Of course the design follows the other aesthetic principles of design such as unity, line, form, texture, scale, balance, etc. But I can never quite get over the number of compliments that arise when one places a hot pink next to a bright yellow.
Specifying the best hot pinks and bright yellows requires plenty of research. The latest hybridized plants promoted by growers are planted in trial gardens over the summer at universities across the country. They are then rated and the cream of the crop receive awards and accolades. These lists are utilized to specify the annuals and the order for Verbena ‘Aztec Silver Magic’ or Melampodium ‘Lemon Delight’ is sent to the grower. The seeds are planted in a greenhouse in the middle of winter and the resulting plants are coddled and any number of chemicals are utilized to ensure survival. All this to the delight of the citizens and Home Depot customers.