Tuesday, July 25, 2017  

Try a Trend in the Garden: A Plethora of Purple


If you’re crazy for color, but cautious of commitment, try the season’s trending shades in a more temporary setting — the garden. If you don’t want to paint it, plant it! Whether it’s for a season or forever, purple hues are both regal and restful in the landscape. Purple vegetables are this season’s fashionable edibles, as they add visual interest in the garden and pack a nutritional punch. Also, purple blossoms lend drama and depth to annual flower beds and perennial shrubs.If you’ve paid any attention to foodie talk or spoken to a school-aged child in recent years, it’s very likely that you’ve heard the phrase “eat the rainbow.” Experts agree that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors is important for a healthy diet, and the purple hues have been getting lots of attention lately. 
The color purple is going to prevail on our plates in 2017, according to consumer behavior analysts at Whole Foods Market. “The power of purple goes beyond the vibrant color and often indicates nutrient density and antioxidants,” analysts said. Science also backs up the claim that purple foods are good for us. The secret ingredient that gives purple vegetables their lively coloring is a pigment called anthocyanin. In addition to giving plants and vegetables that lovely hue, anthocyanin has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. These antioxidants have also been said to play a role in controlling and possibly preventing obesity and diabetes, and reducing inflammation.

Purple Power

Richly colored purple foods are popping up everywhere. In short, research is proving what mothers have been telling their children for generations; vegetables are good for us, and purple vegetables are some of the best. Here is just a small sampling of the many you can try.

Purple Potatoes
Like most Americans, you probably already incorporate potatoes in your diet in one form or another, so why not branch out and try a new variety? Purple potatoes and sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, containing four times more than the russet variety. You can use them in the same ways you would use any potato, but for maximum nutritional benefits, leave the skin on. The foliage of these varieties is ornamental as well — from a brilliant chartreuse to a dark aubergine.

This one is a little more complicated to grow, but the benefits are worth the trouble. If you are growing eggplant from seed, it is recommended to start them in an indoor or greenhouse setting. The soil needs to be warm before they are put outdoors, so wait until you are certain the last frost has passed before planting eggplant in your garden. Eggplant thrives in the summertime heat, but needs about an inch of water per week in order to thrive. If the leaves begin to wilt or curl, the plant needs to be watered.

Purple Asparagus
Similar in flavor to the more common variety, purple asparagus offers a more tender texture with a slightly sweeter taste. It can be enjoyed raw, lightly grilled or sautéed. Sprinkle with sea salt and light olive oil for an ideal combination of flavors.

Purple Cauliflower
A trendy, colorful variety of a familiar garden vegetable, purple cauliflower, like its less vibrant relative, is a cool season crop and a member of the cabbage family. If growing it in your garden seems a little daunting, it’s often available at farmers’ markets and Whole Foods Market includes it among its more exotic veggie offerings.
There are multiple varieties of purple vegetables and fruits to incorporate into your garden and meal planning — beets, carrots, figs, blueberries, and blackberries, among others. Winter months are an ideal time to begin exploring all of the options you have when it comes to adding that royal color of 2017 into your garden and eventually, your meals. Who knew that such a pretty color could bring not only happiness and beauty, but a plethora of health benefits into your new year?

Lavish Landscapes   
Once your vegetable garden is complete, why not explore the variety of flowers that can add even more of this year’s most desirable colors to your landscape. Purple rounds out many effective color trios. Plant it with chartreuse and pink for a sense of depth. When blended with blues and greens, it adds substance. Purple anchors combinations of red and gold, making them appear subtle and mysterious. Purple adds weight and value in a flower border. Use it as a shading tool to separate and define other colors.

A favored gem for many backyard gardeners, pansies offer a simple yet elegant beauty that will enliven any outdoor space. Often blooming from autumn all the way through spring, there is plenty of time to get ample enjoyment from these lovely blooms before the dog days of summer arrive. Look for a variety of light to deeper purple hues to incorporate the colors of the season. Pair the purples with yellow, gold or white for an especially cheerful spring garden.

Roses are red, violets are...well, purple. Their dainty faces make great accents around trees and water sources, but can also be used for simple ground cover or even grown in pots. They happily co-exist with pansies and other annuals. Plant these beauties in the fall or early spring, and they will be a low-maintenance treat for many months.

Ever romantic and fragrant, lilacs are a familiar harbinger of spring. A species of olive, they bloom in multiple shades of purple, pink and white and can live for hundreds of years. Although their flowers are among the most delicate of the ornamentals, the shrub itself is quite hardy.

These low-maintenance plants make a vibrant accent to any color-filled landscape, especially in a shaded garden. Their deep green and variegated foliage is highlighted by white or purple-blooming spikes. Fertilize them in the spring and enjoy their evolving beauty all year round.

Butterfly Bushes
These shrubs, which get their name from the insects they attract, are a beautiful addition to virtually any outdoor space. Plant them in the back of a flowerbed or against a fence and they will provide a gorgeous backdrop for all other flowers. With their pink or purple blooms in the spring and summer, and leaves that remain green throughout the year, Butterfly Bushes are a shrub for all seasons.

Flourishing in sun or shade, in hues of blue, purple, pink and white, hydrangeas offer huge bouquets of clustered flowers in various arrangements from mophead to lacecap from summer through fall. Hydrangeas thrive in a moist, fertile, well-drained soil in partial to full shade. If you’re seeking blue hydrangea flowers, check your soil’s pH level and apply aluminum sulfate in spring to lower pH to the 5.2-5.5 range. The change in hydrangea flower color results from lower pH and higher aluminum content in the soil. One of the best things about hydrangeas is that different varieties have different bloom times, allowing for a whole summer filled with purple, blue, pink and white hydrangea blooms.