When you think about gardens what is the first colour that comes to mind? You will undoubtedly answer green and this is no surprise considering that green is the colour of most planting and considered the colour most associated with Springtime, nature and growth. Even the word green comes from the middle English and Anglo Saxon word ‘grene’ which, like the German word grün has the same germanic root as the words ‘grass’ and ‘grow’.
The colour green is the colour between blue and yellow on the spectrum of light an is considered an additive primary colour among with red and blue. It is very common in nature because of the process of photosynthesis where a complex chemical compound called chlorophyll absorbs wavelengths of red and blue light much more quickly than what appears green to our eyes. This means that light reflected by plants appears green to us.
“PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery has been named the colour of the year 2017”
Interestingly the shade PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery has been named the colour of the year 2017. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute says that Greenery “bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.” She goes on to say that Greenery is a life-affirming shade and is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.
There are many interesting historical and symbolic associations with the colour green. In Ancient Egypt for example the colour was the symbol of rebirth and regeneration due to the fact that the annual flooding of the Nile allowed crops to grow in their green glory. The colour green was also used as a pigment for the walls of tombs and on papyrus paper and for this the artists ground up Malachite stone which was mined in the Sinai desert and other places. In fact, a paintbox of ground malachite was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and the ancient Egyptians also added green stone scarab beetles into the coffins with the mummified bodies.
Interestingly the colour green did not hold a great significance in Ancient Greece and green and blue were even sometimes considered the same colour-one which described both the colour of trees and the colour of the sea. The ancient Romans on the other hand placed greater significance in the colour green and was considered the colour for Venus the goddess of fertility, love, beauty and gardens as well as growing vegetables and vineyards.
In the middle ages and the Renaissance green developed to have a strong symbolic meaning and this was rooted in the social hierarchy of the time. Green was worn by merchants, gentry and bankers while red was only worn by nobility and grey and brown were the colours worn by peasants.
In modern times there are many different associations with green in our everyday lives. From environmental links to being ‘green’ or youthful and inexperienced to links with money or even to the safety to proceed in traffic. In emotions we have everything from calm to the feeling of jealousy and more.
“There are actual physical effects on your body when you surround yourself with green”
Considering however that the most common association of the colour is nature, it is no wonder that the colour green makes us feel calm and relaxed. Holistically considered green is the colour of healing and rejuvenation and the colour of the heart chakra. Interestingly there is more to this ‘feel-good effect’ of green than you think. In fact, there are actual physical effects on your body when you surround yourself with green. Green is said to stimulate your pituitary gland, which makes your blood histamine levels increase and it leads to lower blood pressure- no wonder green has a calming effect on your body.
So, it is no wonder so that being surrounded by green in the garden is good for you. The practice of gardening of course has so many health benefits in itself, from being a simple, safe work-out to being surrounded by fresh air and being connected to nature and your surrounding environment. Most of all though, being surrounded by the endless shades of the colour green is inspiring, healthy and healing. Long live the colour green!
Green Gems in the Garden
Most plants have green foliage but it’s not often that the actual flowers of plants are also green. Here are some fab flowers that have green in their blooms.
Euphorbia x martinii
This small variety of the Euphorbia or spurge family is a great addition for a smaller space and has stunning green flowers with small red centres which bloom from March to July. The flowers on this specimen are very long lasting and it is a very well balanced and elegant one that works in almost any scheme. These great evergreen Euphorbias work so well as support plants in almost any scheme but look very visual in their own right.
This is a fascinating plant. A lovely shade of green-almost jade like in colour, this Hellebore is also known as the ‘stinking hellebore’. The reason for this is that the leaves give off an unpleasant odour when crushed. The plant itself is very evergreen and architectural in shape making it a great one to create drama in shady corners of the garden. Another bonus is that it flowers from January to April so will give the Winter and Spring garden some interest.
Echinacea ‘Green Envy’
This unique coneflower variety is very unusual indeed. The exotic colour is a lovely mix -emerging as green and blending to pink as time goes on. Like all coneflowers this is a must for the wildlife garden and from June to September this beauty will be covered in butterflies and bees. A fascinating fact is that the colour of the pink centre darkens further as the seasons change and by the end of the flowering season it will have turned a deep rich purple.
There are endless shades of green and any are based on things found in nature such as plants or gems. Here are a few examples:
Green Claire Davey- America Village Apothecary
Last Christmas my friend Kate served the most amazing Prosecco cocktails. What made these particularly special was the addition of one of the most delicious products I have come across from the American Village Apothecary company. These handmade syrups, tinctures and bitters are made in small batches and with locally foraged aromatic herbs and botanicals along with additional exotic key ingredients. The seriously beautiful website by the Galway based Claire Davey divides the products into three categories -tinctures, syrups and bitters and all are dream ingredients for mixologists. Claire’s values are based on creating awareness between nature and community and how they interact in our modern world and her blog features many fascinating design stories. The particular cocktail that Kate served last year used the delicate wild Rose No.5 syrup which is made with the hips of the native Irish Wild Rose and this year I have ordered some syrups for myself. The Gorse Syrup No.4 has a unique subtle flavour with hints of coconut, almond and vanilla and the Pine syrup No.1 is a stunning blend of Pine timber notes mixed with the sweetness of citrus. These are delicious with Prosecco but work just as well in non-alcoholic drinks. Add them to sparkling water for a really refreshing drink!
For all products and Claire’s inspiring journal go to America Village
Here is a delicious recipe by Claire Davey of America Village Apothecary
The Gorse Sour.
If you enjoy a Pisco Sour, Whiskey Sour and the like, you are going to like this Gorse Sour – Made with Gorse Syrup and 103 Brandy, a Spanish Brandy that it very light and perfect for this cocktail.
You will need:
• 50ml 103 Brandy
• 15ml Gorse Syrup
• 20ml fresh lime juice
• 1 small egg white
• America Village Aromatic Bitters
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the Bitters into a cocktail shaker. Dry shake vigorously for 15 seconds – Add ice and shake for another 15/20 seconds until nicely chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and float 4/5 dashes of Aromatic Bitters on the top.
Serve and enjoy.