The Gift Of Fall Colors

By Linda Wiggen Kraft


If all the gifts that plants give us, color is perhaps the greatest of all.   It is the living colors of plants that we miss during the dullness of winter and that we celebrate in spring.   Fall colors are their own unique celebration of vivid reds, oranges, yellows, purples and other rainbow hues.

Plant colors are unique because they are living colors.  Their colors shine with the force of life and light in a way that no other object can.  The food of life for plants is light, which is transformed from sunlight into the infinite colors of flower and foliage. As a garden designer I have found that the number one reason people want a garden is to bring specific living colors into their life.  Each person has favorite and least favorite colors and they want their garden to reflect that.

Why are colors so important?  We intuitively know which colors have a positive impact on our lives, and those are the ones we want. Colors can bring joy or repulsion. Studies show that colors can calm or excite us. People heal faster in hospitals when they can look outside and see the colors of nature.  Ancient cultures used color to heal and bring balance to life.  Yoga has brought an awareness of color’s effects to our energy centers called chakras.  The seven rainbow colored chakras have their own color energy and related effect on our lives.  The middle chakra is our heart center, which works with the color green, the color of balance.  It is interesting that in nature the predominant color is green. Perhaps it is nature’s gift of green that resonates with our hearts and opens our love energy.

I recently gained a new perspective on plant colors and came to realize that nature’s colors are truly a gift to see and receive.  The scientific explanation of what color an object is, is that it really isn’t the color we see. In fact, objects are preciously not the color we see because they absorb all color wave lengths but the color we see, which is reflected off the object. For example, a blue flower only reflects the color blue. All other color wave lengths are absorbed by it.  In essence it is not blue, only a reflection of blue. My new understanding is that a flower’s reflected color is a gift from that flower to those who could see it and receive the energy of that color. I now look at flowers and plants and see each color as an amazing gift.  And perhaps at no other time of the year is this gift of color more beautiful than in the exuberance of fall.