Earlier this year I did a blog on pink flowers, my recommendations for pink garden showstoppers, and the color psychology of pink itself. Now it’s time for pink to step aside and make way for her sister purple! Purple petal power is real and I’m here to spread the word. Purple flowers are always a great addition to a garden because of the versatility of the color. Purple can be seen as prestigious and dignified, serene and calming, or even whimsical and fun. From irises to catmint, these blooms are found year round, in all types of gardens, and in many different shapes and sizes.
Purple, the Pigment
Like most colors, purple’s psychology depends on the shade in question. Dark, rich purples have an entirely separate meaning from their lighter, softer counterparts. Due to a long history of religious and cultural significance, deep purples still to this day represent royalty, extravagance, and status. The Bible mentions Jesus draped in a purple robe as a point of mockery before his crucifixion, Roman emperors forbid their citizens from wearing purple clothing under penalty of death, and Byzantine rulers wore flowing purple fabrics and signed their edicts in purple ink. These examples all boil down to the simple truth that purple dye was a hot commodity in ancient times. Introduced in Homer’s “Iliad” and Virgil’s “Aeneid”, a single ounce of the Phoenicians’ famous “Tyrian purple” came from the harvested mucus of 250,000 sea snails. The laborious process of cracking open thousands of these mollusks is what propelled purple into the spotlight as the signifying color of luxury and wealth we know today. The impression has persisted for centuries as it was the color of choice for the Robe of Estate worn by Queen Elizabeth II following her 1953 coronation.
Light, soft purples are vastly different in their representation. Often seen as peaceful and gentle, light purple is sometimes associated with the aromatic herb lavender, found in almost any spa or bathroom and used for relaxation and rejuvenation. You might also think of a tranquil sky during sunrise or sunset when considering this shade of purple or even the healing powers of amethyst, a crystal some believe to relieve stress and anxiety. According to Katie Smith, color expert and designer, “Purple both calms and stimulates our bodies, putting us in the right place for introspection and focused insight. It fosters creativity by awakening our senses while promoting the quiet necessary to make intuitive, insightful observations. Purple creates a harmonious balance of awareness and peace.”
And that’s just what purple is: balance. Purple is created from red and blue, two opposites in the world of color psychology. Red represents fire and passion while blue represents coolness and serenity. This combination is what makes purple unique. It’s not a primary color which means it’s often seen as independent and innovative. This, along with the fact that it does not naturally occur as often as other colors, is what also makes purple mysterious, elaborate, exotic, and sometimes magical. For example, purple is often used in media to color fairies, unicorns, aliens, galaxies, supernatural phenomena, ghouls and goblins at Halloween, sea creatures, and things that are generally shiny or sparkly.
Finally, one last important aspect of purple’s wildly diverse color psychology is its connection to courage, wisdom, and loyalty. The purple heart, created in 1782 by George Washington, is the highest honor of bravery for the U.S. military. As a nation rooted in pride for its armed forces, this award alone has given purple a new meaning.
The real question is, what do you think of when you think of purple?
Now to get to the good stuff. Whether you have a cutting garden or a wild overgrown meadow, here are some beautiful purple blooms that are sure to provide some visual contrast and colorful texture to your landscape.
Summer and Fall Blooms
If you want to know more about the power of these purple petals, all of the info gathered here came from the NC State Extension Service’s website. You can look up more purple blooms or read on about the ones mentioned by checking out their extremely helpful site or your local Extension Service’s website. Never heard of Extension Services? Click on my blog here that explains it all and you might even want to get involved. Happy purple planting!