The Power of Yellow

Lemony yellow daylily brightens the garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Lemony yellow daylily brightens the garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I’m just mad about Saffron, Saffron’s mad about me, They call it mellow yellow, Quite rightly, Oh so yellow, Oh so mellow~ (Donovan Leitch, 1966).  Although the musician Donovan seemed to think the color yellow was quite mellow, most flowers of that hue are anything but. They’re electric . . . a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, and simply irresistible! Luckily, yellow is an easy color to find if you want to add a few splashes to brighten your garden’s palette this year.

The glowing Coreopsis 'Zagreb' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The glowing Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Yellow is such a joyful shade, signifying happiness, optimism, imagination, hope, clarity, and wisdom.  Consider how wonderful you feel on a sunny spring day, as you stroll along admiring golden daffodils, glowing forsythia bushes and radiant buttercups sprinkled across a nearby meadow. Yellow is the color of rejuvenation, providing renewed energy and sharper concentration, while helping to chase away the blues. Following are a few of my favorite “un-mellow” yellows:

Brilliant centaurea blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Brilliant centaurea blossom (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Centaurea macrocephala (Giant knapweed) This lady is the queen of sizzlers.  Each strong stem proudly holds a single golden torch like a beacon luring bees and humans alike to come in for a closer look.  The flower resembles a woven brown basket with sulfur yellow fringe hair popping out the top.  This plant is a show stopper from mid June to mid July, so be sure to plant it where you will enjoy its encore.  (Zones 3-9)

Buttery yellow Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Buttery yellow Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’and ‘Moonbeam’(Tickseed) The flower of coreopsis verticillata is like a sprinkle of sunshine touching down in your garden.  The gay yellow or golden blossoms are smaller than daisies or rudbeckia, yet they pack the same punch, literally illuminating any spot they are cohabiting.  Incredibly easy to grow and maintain, any sun drenched garden would greatly benefit with this lovely plant in its borders. The delicate, feathery foliage of Zagreb is a perfect contrasting texture, and with a shear after the initial bloom (usually late June-early July) and moderate moisture from Mother Nature, another flush of golden splendor will radiate from this plant in the late summer. Moonbeam, the 1995 Perennial Plant of the Year, has the same airy foliage as Zagreb, but the flowers are a buttery yellow instead.  The softer, creamy color of Moonbeam makes it a wonderful companion to bolder colored flowers and foliage in the border, actually acting as a soother to help mellow a scene that might otherwise be considered a little too dazzling.  (Zones 4-9)

Funky Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Funky Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ (Bulb) This skunky odored, very critter repellant heirloom is nothing short of spectacular in the early spring garden. Bright yellow bells hang in abundance from the crown, usually between 24 to 36 inches high.  If space (and wallet) permits, plant these long-lived bulbs in groupings of three in a well viewed, sunny location, and sit back and enjoy the fabulous display come April. (Zones 5-9)

Luminous Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Luminous Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)


Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (Perennial sunflower) Helianthus are a cheery group of statuesque, lemony to golden yellow flowered beauties that grow under a series of tough conditions including drought and neglect.  In fact, most prefer the latter.  Many helianthus grow over 5 feet tall and bloom from July to August, and Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, is a goddess capable of towering over 7 feet high. Starting at the end of August (if pruned), this queen is loaded with flowers that will easily last through September. (Zones 5-9)

Vibrant, multi-hued Daylily in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Vibrant, multi-hued Daylily (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Hemerocallis sp. (Daylily) I adore daylilies for many reasons; exquisite color choices, variable bloom times (late spring thru fall), assorted heights and blossom sizes, and ease of care.  Because of these assets, you’ll find a daylily (or two or three) in most of my gardens. When considering a daylily for your garden, think about sighting, bloom time and intensity of color.  Many daylilies deserve a spot front and center, but coordinating bloom times will help to compliment other garden blossoms while avoiding a color clash disaster. For repeat bloomers try the creamy cheddar yellow ‘Stella de Oro’, or the paler yellow ‘Happy Returns’. For an intense lemony yellow with fragrance, consider ‘Hyperion’.  If you like ’em tall, ‘Autumn King’ has golden blossoms that reach up to 6 feet.  Please visit:

Radiant Rudbekia 'Goldsturm' in A Garden for All by Kathy Diemer

Radiant Rudbekia ‘Goldsturm’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (black-eyed Susan) Where there’s gold, there’s Goldsturm, providing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in your garden.  This native beauty is tough, disease resistant, drought tolerant and easy to grow.  Justifiably chosen as Perennial Plant of the Year for 1999, as long as you live in zones 3–9 and have lots of sun and well drained soil, you’ve met its minimal requirements.  Goldsturm erupts in a blaze of color in mid-July and goes on and on and on until September, giving you months of pleasure and dazzle that both you and your butterfly friends will enjoy.  In the fall, the seed heads are a great food source for birds, as well as an aesthetic contribution to the autumn landscape.

So, what are you waiting for?  Put some yellow in your life today!

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