I’m as glad as other garden bloggers to see this winter’s snow disappear, but despite my best efforts, I can’t work up much enthusiasm for my mud-splashed snowdrops and wind-tattered hellebores. The idea of doing a new color-based post was much more appealing, and though pink isn’t one of my favorites, my latest obsession – the BBC series Sherlock – provided the perfect title, and I couldn’t resist. (Delightfully, Dr. John Watson now chronicles Sherlock’s adventures in a blog, which includes his own A Study in Pink post.) So now, for your viewing enjoyment, a random selection of some pretty-in-pink flowers and foliage in portraits, pairings, and garden settings.
Among some somewhat-out-of-the-ordinary annuals and tender perennials are ground-hugging pink knotweed (Persicaria capitata), with ball-shaped bloom clusters over bronze-marked green leaves:
Black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’), with delicately shaded blooms that mostly hide under the dark foliage:
‘Limelight’ four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa), with hot pink trumpets that open in late afternoon over chartreuse foliage:
‘Chocolate’ morning glory (Ipomoea nil), looking lovely here with the glossy, bright green leaves of Malabar spinach (Basella alba):
The dainty, tubular blooms of pink cigar plant (Cuphea cyanea):
Fuzzy-tailed chenille plant (Acalypha hispida):
Rosy pink ‘Limerock Ruby’ coreopsis – here with ‘Merlot’ lettuce:
‘Angelmist Pink’ angelonia – here with with variegated Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Variegata’) and snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata):
The late-season, pink chains of variegated kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Persicaria orientalis ‘Shiro-gane Nishiki’):
Croftway Purple Prince cape fuchsia (Phygelius aequalis ‘Cropurpri’), which – to my eye, at least – is much more rosy pink than purple:
There are plenty of pinks among common perennials, of course – and among some not-so-common ones too. Lamium orvala isn’t especially long-flowering, unfortunately, but it’s a real beauty when it’s in bloom in early May.
Later in May, crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa) is at its best.
‘Pink Panda’ ornamental strawberry (Fragaria) has at least a few flowers through most of the growing season, but it’s showiest around here in late spring to early summer.
‘Tubby Andrews’ bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia) also blooms pink, but they’re not as showy as the streaked-and-speckled foliage.
Campion (Silene dioica) is generally dependable for showy spring pink, with a bonus of variegated foliage on the selection ‘Valley High’.
And there are many pink pinks (Dianthus), of course, including ‘Rosish One’ – here with variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’).
Moving into summer, the feathery pink spikes of ornamental clover (Trifolium rubens) are at their best in June.
Two more June bloomers include ‘Dark Towers’ beardtongue(Penstemon)…
…and ‘Amazone’ tuberous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis tuberosa).
Pink perennials for July include ‘Party Girl’ prairie mallow (Sidalcea):
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca):
…and rosy pink purple milkweed (A. purpurascens).
There’s lots of phlox, too, such as the stunningly unsubtle ‘Becky Towe’ (Phlox paniculata)…
…and tiny-flowered ‘Jeana’.
The individual blossoms of pink vervain (Verbena hastata ‘Rosea’) are also tiny, but they’re arranged in spikes rather than domed clusters.
‘Erica’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) has slightly later spikes than the vervain. It’s a much paler pink, though definitely more pink than the usual white species.
And for fall, the airy pink plumes of ‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum)…
…and pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) – here with ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora):
As well as marvelous ‘Sheffield Pink’ mums (Chrysanthemum) – here with aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium):
There are loads of pink-flowered bulbs too, but I’ve picked out just a few favorites, starting with ‘Antoinette’ tulip:
Ornamental onion (Allium schubertii):
Compact ‘Tom Pouce’ Oriental lily (Lilium):
Towering ‘Robina’ Orienpet lily, with a fragrance as rich as its color:
Gaudy ‘Far West’ gladiolus:
The much-more-delicate-looking ‘Friendship’ gladiolus:
And the very late-flowering Japanese onion (Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’).
It’s just as hard to choose only a few uncommon offerings from the plethora of pink shrubs. Hybrid tea ‘Verschuren’ may be one of thousands of roses that have pink flowers, but it’s one of very few roses that have variegated foliage.
Variegated memorial rose (Rosa wichuraiana ‘Curiosity’; a.k.a. R. wichuraiana var. variegata) has pink in its new foliage, not in its flowers (which are white):
Weigelas, of course, come in many shades of pink. This soft pink one is ‘Variegated Mystery’.
For late summer, there’s spiky, purplish pink mint shrub (Elsholtzia stauntonii):
And broad-mounded bush clover (Lespedeza thunbergii).
Pink isn’t nearly as abundant in foliage as in flowers, but you can find some interesting options, such as the crinkled-edged rosettes of Echeveria ‘The Rose’.
Several phormiums, too, have distinctly pink parts in their leaves. This one was labeled as ‘Pink Stripe’. I’m not sure that’s the right name, but it was certainly accurate.
Below it’s with ‘The Rose’ echeveria, ‘Catlin’s Giant’ ajuga, and Allium cernuum:
And here’s a closeup of it draping over yellow-leaved Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’, which itself takes on a pink blush in cool weather.
Cannas, such as Tropicanna (Canna ‘Phaison’)…
…and ‘Pink Sunrise’ (below, and at the very top of this post) also have pink striping but are bold instead of spiky.
Swiss chards aren’t quite as dramatic as cannas, but they too can have some nice pinks in their stems. You can see the color from the time the seedlings sprout and pick out those with the best pink. Below are seedlings of ‘Pink Lipstick’.
The ‘Bright Lights’ mix also includes some great pinks.
Polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is another easy-to-grow annual for pink pairings. ‘Pink Splash Select’ – shown here with ‘White Splash Select’ – has light to medium pink spots.
‘Rose Splash Select’ has darker pink speckles.
Tender perennial ‘Haight Ashbury’ hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) offers a very similar effect to pink polka-dot plants – to the point where you don’t want to plant them together!
A solid green background is much better at showing off the jagged, pink-marked leaves.
You can depend on coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) to provide all kinds of oddball foliage colors. ‘Amora’ is one that can have some distinctly pink blushing on its leaves. (In some conditions, the pink part is much more of a creamy yellow.)
Here it’s with ‘June’ hosta and ‘The Rose’ echeveria:
‘Bellingrath Pink’ (a.k.a. ‘Alabama Sunset’ and ‘Texas Parking Lot’) is another, more widely available, coleus.
Coleus-like Perilla ‘Magilla’ is pretty spectacular, too.
Finally, a few – very few – pinks in other places. For seedpods, ‘Carmencita Pink’ castor bean (Ricinus communis):
For fruits, Amethyst coralberry (Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii ‘Kordes’):
And last, ‘Taff’s Silver Edge’ coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus):