In Living Color

By Jim Sollecito

Hydrangea and wheelbarrow photo taken at the author’s home.  “That is what happy looks like.”
Hydrangea and wheelbarrow photo taken at the author’s home.
“That is what happy looks like.”

Color helps us regulate our feelings. It can help shape our perceptions. The way landscapers use color is our super power. You’re probably not enthused by a stark clinical space outside your home that overwhelms with mulch. The much-preferred option is a carefully selected combination of textures and colors that reflect your personality and, when viewed, nourishes the soul.

Especially during the times of the year that are important to you. Not everyone is a “spring” chicken. Many of my clients prefer the most colorful palette during summer when they spend more time in their yards. The up-close-and-personal experience is as refreshing and effervescent as Fresca after a long sultry day.

Taken further, a home’s landscape beds will kaleidoscope through all four seasons, radiating an evolving display of flower, foliage, fruit and bark. You’ll witness the transforming effects of morning dew, afternoon raindrops, direct and indirect sunlight, light breezes and, of course, the various backgrounds and reflections of siding, fences, rocks, boulders and pavement.

Which is why we are inspired to do some of our most creative work in backyards. Away from the street, the quiet is contagious. Editing and updating our same-old-same-old is invigorating, to say the least. And since we’re not that young anymore, larger yet still affordable plants are desired and encouraged. Not fully grown to maturity mind you, as the cost could be high and you would be robbed of the experience of watching things grow.

Many people think that life gets better by chance when, in fact, it only gets better through change. And the change in your own yard should be a landscape that evolves to something more pleasing with time, an evolution that incorporates improved, more colorful varieties of new plants. I have said it before, and I’ll state it again, fully 80% of the plants we sell now were not even available 20 years ago. The opportunity for lower maintenance and more floriferous varieties is seemingly endless. If you have the idea that landscaping is a one and done activity, then you have lost a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature just a few steps from where you eat or sleep.

We don’t usually monotask these days, and yet when we are among our plants, the spiritual component dominates the activity. We can set aside the high-tech devices of the modern world. Leave behind the beeps and buzzers, status updates and urgent notifications. Each of those represents the press of the imminent. The supposed urgent. A source for worry. Worrying is like paying interest on a debt that’s not due. It’s exhausting. I consider the act of planting to be transcendent, a walking prayer of sorts. It connects me with my past and my future at the same time. It all involves the soil under me that one day will be on top of me.

So recognize the opportunity to feel great and at the same time improve your landscape color potential.

Look at this photo I took at our own home. That is what happy looks like. Everything changes, including ourselves.  Why not make a few changes now in the colors of your own life, changes that will impact how you feel every time you come home.

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or