Six on Saturday: Purple Garden Magic

Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, has finally covered itself with purple flowers. Hardy only to Zone 8, it needs special care or a mild winter to survive here year to year.


Purple has a long and regal cultural history, extending back into ‘pre-history’ when early artists sketched animals on cave walls with sticks of manganese and hematite.  Discovered in modern times at French Neolithic sites, these ancient drawings demonstrate an early human fascination with the color purple. These same minerals, combined with fat, created early purplish paints.


Purple Buddleia davidii, butterfly bush, brings many different species of butterflies to the garden.


The ancient Egyptians used manganese in glaze for purple pottery.  Elsewhere around the Mediterranean world, purple fabric dyes were stewed from certain mollusks.

Difficult to obtain, purple fabrics originally were reserved for royalty, rulers, and the exceptionally wealthy.  Purple is still used ceremonially by royal families and Christian bishops.

Later purple dyes were made using lichens, certain berries, stems, roots and various sea creatures.  Synthetic shades of purple dyes were first manufactured in the 1850s, when ‘mauve’ made its debut.  Creating just the right shade can be both difficult and expensive.


Native purple mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum,  returns and spreads each year.


Considered a ‘secondary color,’ shades of purple range between blue and red.  Artists mix various reds, blues and white to create the tint they need.   As a secondary color, purple has come to symbolize synthesis, and the successful blending of unlike things.  It is creative, flamboyant, magical, chic and ambiguous.  Lore tells us that purple was Queen Victoria’s favorite color.


Rose of Sharon varieties offer many purple or blue flowers on long flowering shrubs.


Violet and indigo form part of the visible spectrum of light, but not purple.  Purple glass is made with minerals, like hematite, melted in the mix to create its rich hues.

Purple flowers, leaves, stems, fruits and roots indicate the presence of certain pigments, known as anthocyanins, that block harmful wavelengths of light.   Purple leaves can photosynthesize energy from the sun.  The rich pigment attract pollinators to flowers and may offer purple parts of the plant some protection from cold weather.  These deep colors are often considered to enhance flavor and increase the nutritional value of foods.


Tradescantia offers both purple foliage and flowers.  A tender perennial, it can be overwintered in the house or garage.  Here it shares its space with an Amythest cluster.


I love purple flowers and foliage for their rich and interesting contrast with all shades of green.  Ranging from nearly pink to nearly black, botanical purples offer a wide variety of beautiful colors for the garden.  Add  a touch of yellow or gold, and one can create endless beautiful and unusual color schemes for pots, baskets and borders.


Verbena bonariensis blooms in a lovely, clear shade of purple from late spring until frost.


Woodland Gnome 2019

And one more:

A new Classic Caladiums introduction this season, C. ‘Va Va Violet,’ offers the most purplish violet Caladium color to date.



Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.



One Word Photo Challenge: Purple

November 13, 2013 parkway 024


Crowning arch of the rainbow,

Most etheric vibration of light;

You bring peace and insight, forgiveness and transcendence.


Amethyst crystal,

Balancer and protector,

Stone of clarity and knowledge;

You bring healing and wisdom to those who choose you.

March 12, 2014 CW 044

Lavender, lilac, orchid, plum,

Living, growing, pure vibrant color-

Fragrance of peace and healing;

You bring delicious beauty to those who grow you.

November 25 cranberry preserves 002

Blending blue with red,

Ending and beginning the endless wheel of color;

Your every tint and hue a mosaic of quiet beauty.

Sept 10 2013 close up photos 008

Growing in fields of living rainbows,

From darkest purpley black

To lightest shade of periwinkle;

Maroon, mauve, cabernet, blue ecstatic May born Iris.

October 11 garden 004

Violets growing in springtime grass,

birthday and spring 014

Fields of lavender filling warm summer breeze with perfume,

July 28 2013 caterpillars 005

Juicy plums dribbling as I bite you,

Mauve hellebores poking through the snow,

March 11, 2014 garden 017

Lilac shrub bursting into flower as April warms,

Orchids blooming on the windowsill;

January 28 orchid 009

Beauty and happiness radiate in purple’s glow…

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014




Please visit Jennifer Nichole Wells who hosts this weekly One Word Photo Challenge.

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