I had a surprising request the other day. My friend Margaret, who lives near Lismore in northern New South Wales, sent me a Facebook message saying she was planning a ‘beige’ garden and wanted plant suggestions. I looked at the message in great puzzlement. Who, I thought, would want a beige garden? All I could think was that as she had just moved into a new house it must be so vibrantly coloured and she wanted the garden to contrast.
Even though I thought it sounded odd, my brain started to flick through a roll call of plants and I wasn’t coming up with anything beige. Plenty of cream, yellow, gold and even brown, but beige: nothing.
Well there are grasses, especially at the end of their growth season as they fade and dry, but I kept on trying to think of some flowers.
Actually, before the rain here everything was beige as we hung out for some moisture, but thankfully it is all lush and green again.
Then I recalled the tiny flowers on alternanthera. Yes among all that vibrant red or green variegated foliage they had beige flowers, but their bold leaves would surely rule them out. Ditto amaranthus and beefsteak (Iresine herbstii).
Carex? Miscanthus? Lemongrass? Grasses kept popping up on the beige list. Then I thought of knobby club rush grass (Isolepis nodosa) as it has beige clusters of flowers. It was a definite option. So was lomandra. And ixias – definitely some beige tones in there somewhere I think.
Gardenias I wondered. I’d call their fragrant flowers cream, but certainly they get a beige look as they die off. Maybe the variety ‘Golden Magic’ would qualify? And maybe while I am thinking fragrant, port wine magnolia could work too, they have beige, skin-toned flowers.
Then, as I really began clutching at straws (there’s a beige option, straw mulch), another message popped up on the screen.
”Sorry”, she said “I meant a VEGIE garden” (Don’t know where beige came from, she added, – probably my bad typing and autocorrect!). “Any suggestions for summer vegie planting” she asked?.
I was so relieved! I have lots of suggestions for vegies, and none of them beige.
Gosh yes, it is a great time to plant vegies and you’ll be harvesting right through summer to autumn. I’d be putting in cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (Lebanese) and lots of salad greens like soft-hearted lettuce and herbs including basil, parsley and mint (if you have a shady, moist area). And of course chillies, eggplant and zucchini can go in too. If you have space, pop in some pumpkins and maybe a watermelon as well.