...the orange marigolds that offend the eye when they're planted right next to annual salvias of fire-engine red...Allen Lacy, from the Introduction to Henry Mitchell On Gardening.
It's funny. I'd been one of those who'd pooh-pooh'd the lowly orange (tagetes) marigold...so much so, in fact, that I'd sought out the creamy-white 'Snowball' marigold for seed-starting because I wanted nothing to do with any marigold that was yellow. Or orange. And red salvias? I thought of them as weeds, because that's how they grew in Korea when I was a child, and I was no more impressed with them as an adult, seeing them vomited out of whiskey barrels laid sideward in fast-food parking lot landscaping. But one of the most beautiful plant combinations that I remember from last summer turned out to be a simple orange marigold and a red salvia, together at the base of a dwarf crabapple tree. That marigold's orange happened to be in perfect harmony with that salvia's red, and the two colors hummed together, the whole transcending the sum of the parts. I've seen marigold-salvia combinations before and since that have been more junk than jewel, but I hope that I'm now able to encounter more beauty by learning not to prejudge where I think I'll find it. For, as Henry Mitchell says in his essay on the daffodil 'Cantatrice', found in the very volume that Allen Lacy introduces:
What happened with the flower is that the road gets wider, to such an expansion that the gardener is led far past a mere flower, however beautiful, to the outer courtyard, almost, of divine things.