The Cool House: Chartreuse

Thursday, May 14, 2009


It's still officially Spring so I'm going to forgo Nature's burst into bloom* and let myself be seduced again by green, or more precisely, chartreuse. A mix of yellow and green, chartreuse is bright and peppy almost like the new growth on the weeping juniper tree.


The difficulty is finding a shot that will truly reflect the color on the screen. In the yard these hostas are edged with a perfect chartreuse. On the mac? Not so much.

Chartreuse is elusive -  at first glance it's everywhere but through the camera lens the lime-tinged conifers outside the kitchen window are just pale green.

This shrub held promise but the yellow turns out to be insipid not inspirational; wishy-washy, or simply washed-out.


It's a colour that's hard to define exactly; the paint chips lean to more muddy yellow hues while the hex designation on the web is an equal mix of yellow and green that results in an acid tone. I was so obsessed with Chartreuse that when we painted the kitchen I tried many variations on the kitchen walls from Anjou Pear to Sweet Pear and every chartreuse inspired pea shade in between. Sadly none of them replicated the color that I find in my yard... or the one in my imagination.

Perhaps the problem is that chartreuse is such a saturated hue it needs a contrasting colour to set it off- a smoky blue or a stone grey,

a soft silver green or a bluey-purple?

Why the fascination with chartreuse, apart from the mellifluous sound of the word itself? Because, every so often I'm reminded that once in my sophisticated youth there was a fondness for liqueurs. I was a Benedictine girl but my drinking companion loved Chartreuse and asked for one in a country pub atop a lonely hillock in the wilds of Cumbria. She got what she deserved. The bartender laconically replied: We ain't got no green but we got som o' that yella. Our faux urbanity dissolved in a fit of giggles and henceforth "som o' that yella" was used to describe any delightful but possibly pretentious and overpriced item.

Not at all like the gorgeous chartreuse green of the new leaves on this azalea or the flecks of colour inside the white blossoms.

*(I fibbed because I couldn't leave you without one shot of the yard in bloom).


heidi said...

it's hard to get the same color from real life to camera to screen to web! I usually play with the brightness, contrast. Either way, it was fun seeing your train of color thought :-)

paul schuster said...

I had some chartreuse and champagne recently. at first sip, the cilantro/coriander flavor was a bit overwhelming, but I did go back of a second and later exclaimed that healing properties could be found in that concoction.

modernemama said...

Paul you have to try a B&B (Bénédictine & Brandy)- what doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

Why S? said...

I don't want to be killed or be made stronger but I liked the bartender story. Ah, youth.

Ruth Gardens said...

I love chartreuse in the garden too. You're right about the contrast. The top hosta in your pictures is Frances Wiliams,a perfect contrast between blue-green and chartreuse, with great texture. I'm experimenting this year with "limelight" hydrangeas.

Jen said...

Loving your color stories.