The colours of the rainbow

Sidebar: Rainbow flowers 

Sidebar: Colourful surprises 

The Colour Garden is one of the biggest attractions at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and is a beautiful feature that anyone can emulate at home.

The garden opened in 1997, three years after the park itself, prompting a three-fold rise in visitor numbers.

“When the park opened in 1994 only the Woodland Trail was in place which was a great attraction for nature enthusiasts, but many of the visitors were expecting a lush tropical garden,” says John Lawrus, general manager of the Botanic Park. “The original concept of the Colour Garden was to display a broad range of ornamental plants that were arranged in groups of a specific colour range. 

“When the location of the Colour Garden was finally determined, it became evident that an informal garden with winding pathways through the native trees would provide the experience that visitors were looking for.

“This garden allowed for the ability to demonstrate that native vegetation would not have to be all taken down to develop a colourful and appealing garden, as well demonstrating how both native vegetation and exotic plants could work together in unison. The colour range starts with pink and works through seven shades, including red, orange, yellow, white, blue, and purple.”

This type of garden can easily recreated at home, whether you have a large yard or just a porch, patio or balcony for potted plants or hanging baskets.

“The concept behind the colour garden is to highlight all the colours of the rainbow,” explains Michael Ferrero, deputy general manager at the Botanic Park.

“For example, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (ROYGBIV) is created primarily using flowers, but also taking into consideration foliage as well.”

According to Michael, the easiest shades to assemble for the flowering plants are those in the “hot colours” of yellow, red or orange.

“People tend to be attracted to such colours and the local nurseries on this island will target their purchases towards plants flowering in those tones,” he says.

“Less common by far are the cool shades which are violet (purple) and blue and indigo–the latter would be the most difficult colour to locate as far as finding suitable flowering plants to match that tone.

“White is an intermediate in not being a colour, as such, according to ROYGBIV concept but in a garden setting it’s useful to display plants with white flowers or variegated (white) foliage to contrast with the rainbow scheme.
“Pink and/or rose shades are ambivalent and best used sparingly or excluded if you are a purest for the ROYGBIV concept.”

The vibrancy of the colour garden depends on the time of year, with flowers blooming at different times.

“Mostly winter-blooming plants (in Cayman) tend to be the more delicate, and annual-based varieties last a number of months, whereas the truly tropical types tend to flower heavily with the onset of rain and when the weather is at its highest humidity level,” Michael explains.

A colour garden requires the same attention as a regular garden, with the frequency of watering depending on the types of plants that are selected.

Fertilisers are used to primarily encourage more blooms and once flowering is finished, they can be “dead headed” or pruned off and then the plant can be fertilised again for another display.

The good news for fans of the Colour Garden at the Botanic park is that anyone can make their own version of the attraction, no matter whether you have green fingers or not.

“A colour garden is able to be created and maintained by anyone with an interest in, or who is enthusiastic about, gardening whether they are a beginner or an experienced gardener,” says Michael.

“Look around your own neighbourhood to see what is blooming when, and note the colours to suit your ROYGBIV scheme.”