A Garden in Umbria

Design - Mellow yellow - March 2018

Do I detect a touch of colour prejudice among gardeners?

The colour yellow sparks a really negative reaction in many people, and I cannot understand why. What’s wrong with daffodils? I ask. “Oh, they’re different … it’s all the other yellow flowers we don’t like.”

The great garden designer Rosemary Verey advised us to “remove yellow, then all the other colours will fall into place”. Well if I did that there would be hardly anything left in my garden.

Jasminum nudiflorum

The bright yellow Jasminum nudiflorum lights up the mid-winter gloom: what’s not to like?

Medicago arborea

Medicago and Coronilla glauca which are just coming into bloom now are a sure sign of spring. If you want a more elegant shade of yellow, C. glauca ‘Citrina’ is a good choice.


Even the startling yellow of Forsythia can have its place - sometimes. These will soon be joined by the exuberant wild broom Genista, who’s honeyed perfume matches its colour.

Rosa Banksiae lutescens

The first of the roses to come into bloom are the Banksiae, many of which are yellow. My favourite is the variety lutescens, which has a simple flower and some scent, nicer than the ever-present lutea.


In the summer dry garden, yellow flowered Achillea, Euphorbia, Helichrysum, Hypericum, Phlomis and Santolina are all reliable mainstays, and there are many varieties of these plants available.

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina viridis 'Primrose Gem'

If you don’t like the vivid yellow button flowers of ordinary Cotton Lavender Santolina chamaecyparissus (some people even cut them off), you could try the green leaved Santolina viridis 'Primrose Gem', which has pale lemon-yellow flowers.

Bupleurum fruticosum

In high summer the tall shrub Bupleurum fruticosum blooms on throughout the hottest days.

Only in autumn do yellow flowers feature less often in my garden, and even then, the fiery shades of leaves and berries maintain the intensity of colour.

So why not mellow and learn to love yellow.

The photo at the top of this page shows Coronilla emerus, which is more tolerant of heavy clay soils than Coronilla glauca

All text and photographs © Yvonne Barton unless stated otherwise

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