Repeated plantings of Vanilla Strawberry panicle hydrangea planted along the perimeter of the property carry the eye throughout.
The power of pink in the garden
There’s something to be said about sticking to a palette of pinks in the garden. Delicate pinks, especially when paired with creamy whites and chartreuse greens, provide a sense of softness and elegance. But add splashes of vivid pinks and bright magentas and the temperature gets cranked way up. That’s because combining contrasting pinks creates visual excitement. Plus, pink goes with almost every other color in the spectrum. In fact, the color pink can enhance almost any garden, a lesson Trisha Burdick learned over many years of trial and error in her zone 4 garden in Wayzata, Minnesota.
How to use pink in the garden
Pink is one of those colors that can enhance almost every garden, as long as you know what kind of pink you’re dealing with.
- Warm pinks (coral and blush) tend to be calming and easy on the eye. Teal blue is warm pink’s complementary color (opposite on the color wheel). Plants with blue green flowers or foliage will always make good companions with warm pinks. Blue-gray and olive green also look especially good with warm pinks.
- Cool pinks (fuchsia and hot pink) are more energizing and edgier. They look great paired with violet, burgundy and purple. For a more vibrant combination, pair cool pinks with oranges and yellows or lime green. Turquoise blue, minty green and navy blue also pair well.
Trisha Burdick from Wayzata, Minnesota in her beautiful pink hydrangea garden.
“When we purchased this property in 1991 we could have never imagined how it would be transformed over the many years of landscaping,” says Trisha. “To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning and I never even planned on becoming a gardener.” But Trisha rolled up her sleeves and started doing her homework. Take a tour of the results of years of trialing different combinations of hard-working plants and get inspired to indulge in the delights of a color themed garden. Pink, after all, isn’t just a color, it’s an attitude.
Visitors are greeted at the front entrance of the house by Quick Fire panicle hydrangea surrounded by a skirt of chartreuse hakonechloa grass.
Trisha faced a heavily wooded lot crawling with invasive buckthorn (originally introduced to Minnesota from Europe in the 1800s as a popular hedging plant). “It was almost impossible to grow anything with so much shade and the nasty buckthorn,” explains Trisha. “After researching how invasive buckthorn can be, I started work on removing it,” she says. “It turned out to be a big project that involved a lot of broken shovels.” After clearing the backyard of their 1-acre property, Trisha started researching trees, shrubs and perennials for northern gardens. Slowly, she began to carve out various gardens around their home, experimenting with which plants performed well over time. Panicle hydrangeas, such as Quick Fire above, are now a staple.
Soothing focal point ‘Annabelle’ smooth hydrangea provides the pomp the elegant water fountain focal point deserves.
Trial & error
It’s been a process of trial and error. “Over the past 25 years I have worked my way through our entire property, changing and adding many beds,” she says. “The gardens have expanded and evolved, with many plants being moved or even removed.” The fountain is a focal point of the backyard — from indoors and out. When she sited it, Trisha made sure she could see it from almost every window in the back of the house.
Don’t be afraid to move plants
Like most of us, Trisha cannot resist picking up new plants whenever she visits a nursery or garden center, which can pose a problem with a garden already packed with plants. “I never look at a space and then buy a specific plant. I always buy the plants that appeal to me the most and figure out where to put them later. If I have to discard a plant or a group of plants to add in the latest and greatest new finds, I will do so. It’s trial and error and sometimes I have to move plants around more than once to find the perfect spot.”
The backyard is anchored by a firepit surrounded by comfortable seating and backed with a stand of ‘Pink Diamond’ panicle hydrangea.
The design element that is consistent in Trisha’s garden is the color pink. “I love pink,” she insists. “It is bright and cheerful and puts people in a good mood.” She includes a variety of pink shades in her garden. This provides a sense of consistency and visually ties the landscape together. A pink color scheme is easy to create. That’s because pink — the pastel form of red — is one of the most common colors found in the world of flowers. Pink pops in the landscape and looks good in both sun and shade. Plus, people tend to have a positive emotional response to the color pink.
Play with pink
With the wide range of plants that come in shades of pink, there are endless combinations of pink hues and shades to play with, from romantic soft pinks to attention-grabbing magentas. A good lesson Trisha learned: Don’t be afraid of bold magenta. You can see she repeats pots of bold mandevilla throughout her garden to bump up the garden’s energy.
Pots of pink zinnias and mandevilla lead visitors along a pathway toward Vanilla Strawberry panicle hydrangea in a tree form.
Consider bloom time & flower shape
Trisha learned to consider bloom times, as well. Spring starts with a parade of pink peonies that last for more than a month (she has more than 50 different varieties), before giving way to the bright pink coneflowers and finishing off in late summer with pink-blooming hydrangeas you see in the gallery below. She grows pink annuals throughout the season. The pots of mandevilla and zinnias will bloom from spring to fall. If you are unsure about how colors will look together, visit a greenhouse and place the pink plants alongside plants of various other shades to get a better idea of how they may look combined together in your garden. Also consider mixing the forms or shapes of the flowers. Think about a collection of common daisy-type flowers like coneflowers and tickseed or bell-shaped flowers like bellflowers or balloon flowers. For a spire effect, consider delphiniums, hollyhocks and foxglove.
A gardener’s work
Now Trisha can take a break and admire her work. Of course there is beauty in the detail of every flower. Just look at the fascinating way Quick Fire panicle hydrangea is changing color. But according to Trisha, “The most pleasing aspect of the garden is to really stand back and look at it as a whole. It’s fun for me to think about how it can be improved and how to make the changes that keep it interesting and fresh.”
Pink hydrangea cultivars for your garden
Want to get the look of this beautiful pink hydrangea garden? Find Trisha’s favorite pink panicle hydrangea cultivars in the gallery below.
Quick Fire™ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
This on of the first hydrangeas to bloom in early summer. Panicles start out white then turn pink and eventually dark pink in autumn. Handsome green leaves also turn burgundy in fall.
Blooms White in early summer, turning pink in fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 8 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8
Vanilla Strawberry™ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
The fluffy flower heads of Vanilla Strawberry are packed with sterile florets. They start out nearly white and soon blush bright pink. In the photo you can see how they create an interesting two-tone effect. By fall, the entire flower head turns strawberry red. Even the strong stems have a red tint.
Blooms Fluffy white panicles that blush bright pink midsummer to early fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 7 ft. tall, 4 to 5 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8
Strawberry Sundae® panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
Flowers emerge creamy white in midsummer on this compact hydrange and change to pink as night temperatures drop. Because paniculata hydrangeas bloom on new growth, they typically flower normally even if the twigs have been killed back by frost.
Blooms Creamy white in summer turning pink in fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8
‘Pink Diamond’ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
‘Pink Diamond’ is known for its flower color. The buds are a soft pink that open to a white flower. Soon the flowers change to a medium pink before they turn a rich pink hue. While some cultivars come and quickly go, this one has stood the test of time.
Blooms Soft pink to white summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 4 to 6 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9