The Color Of Dirt

By Mary H. Dyer | April 10, 2021
by Mary H. Dyer
April 10, 2021

I have a high-desert garden with high-desert colors — shades of rustic fence posts, golden prairie grass and wheat, green sagebrush and juniper, yellow rabbitbrush, and of course, dirt. I’m not sure how to describe the “dirt” color. It isn’t brown, but it isn’t like sand, either. It’s just dirt.  

What Is the Color of Dirt?

My husband Tom, who was digging in the yard today, disagrees with me. He says that when the soil is damp and rich, it’s definitely brown. Okay, we’ll call it “dirt brown.” Twenty miles to the south of us, the soil is heavy adobe clay. It’s red. Good luck getting the mud out of your white tennis shoes. (Ask me how I know). 

I love all the “earth” colors, but when I plant my annuals in spring, I plan for a riot of bright colors. I like big, bold colors, especially reds, purples, and yellows. I guess you could say that red geraniums are my “anchors,” and only pure red will do. Not salmon, orange-red, pinkish-red, burgundy, or any of the other various shades of red. 

Colorful Annuals

I grow my annuals by seed, and sometimes it’s difficult to find that pure red shade that I love so much, although “maverick” is very close. I surround my red geraniums with intense blue trailing lobelia, and I love the contrast between the two. 

Once I have geranium and lobelia in place, I plant calibrachoa, zinnias, and wave petunias of all shades except white. I don’t like white flowers, and I’m not sure why. White seems a little boring, but that’s just me.

Some people say that technically, pure white is the absence of colors because you can’t mix colors to create white. Others say that white is a combination of all the colors in the spectrum. Unlike other colors, it can’t be broken down into primary colors, or any combination of primary colors. 

It’s March as I write this. My friend Jude is an avid gardener. She says March is the cruelest month, and I tend to agree with her. March is cold, muddy, and blustery, but the days are finally getting longer after a long winter. I feel hopeful for spring.

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