Have you ever looked skyward to see a break in the clouds with sunlight streaming through, then followed that stream with your eyes to find its golden light bathing a spot in your garden? Sunlight makes plants shimmer and shine, and seeing a sunlit garden all dewy, fresh, and golden brightens your day.
A patch of yellow flowers or foliage is like a spot of sunshine: It draws your attention while warming and illuminating a quiet corner. After the sun goes down, pale yellow flowers don't disappear into dark shadows. Instead, they linger in twilight and glow by moonlight.
Almost any color, including green, red, and orange, combines well with yellow. Blue and yellow are a classic pairing. If you've been schooled in the haughty old aphorism "yellow with pink will always stink," just thumb your nose at stuffiness and give it a try. The combination, especially in spring, is as cheerful as a picket fence skirted with primroses. Throw in some foliage of soft blue, white, and green for color that sparkles with the freshness of a new season. (Remove yellow from that mix and the palette of pastels would go flat.)
This month, nurseries throughout the West are flaunting plants whose yellow flowers or foliage can brighten your garden in spring, summer, fall, or winter. The photographs on these pages show some ways to use them. There's still enough time to plant before the summer heat sets in. As the plants grow, you can bask in your own spot of sunshine.