Such a Vibrant Purple, “Grape” or “Aubergine”?

For those of us obsessed with Steel Magnolias, the title quote of this post should ring a bell from a hilarious scene in the movie.

Clairee Belcher: [trying to do "color commentary" by discussing the color of the football uniforms] ... But I love the top - such a vibrant purple. Bob, would you call this color "grape" or "aubergine'?
Ouiser Boudreaux: SHUT UP!
Clairee Belcher: What?
Ouiser Boudreaux: You're makin' a fool outta yourself, Clairee.
Clairee Belcher: I am not.
Ouiser Boudreaux: This is football. All the people wanna hear about are touchdowns and injuries. They don't give a damn 'bout that grape shit.

In the design world, I’m often confronted with the same dilemma as Clairee. What is that color exactly? When arranging flowers for a client’s soiree or painting the walls of a client’s home, the color scheme will always be most apropos for the rest of the project. Most often taking my inspiration from nature, we designers are quite fortunate to glean from the world around us for our color choices.

Is it more of a blue green or a green blue? Would you say that cream goes taupe or veers towards yellow? There is too much gray in that white – what about a white that leans towards warm rather than cool? That brown definitely goes gold in this light…the sample made it steer towards purple. Too orangey…not salmon enough…coral got into that mix…Just a snippet of the conversations you’ll hear at James Farmer Designs, but they are true wonderings as we wander through the world of color!

While perusing through the cooler at one of my favorite wholesale florists, Cut Flower Wholesale, I came across these Sumatra Lilies and immediately cracked up thinking about the Steel Magnolias conversation between Clairee, Ouiser, and the Bob the football coach. I was literally struck into deep thought as to what color these lilies were? What color they would mature into? What shade they would lean towards once arranged and set? Were they grape or aubergine?

I firmly believe beauty can be held in the eye of the beholder and the adage stands true for color interpretation. An antique floral bucket I found along the way proved to be the vessel of choice for a monochromatic display of the Sumatra Lilies, Northern Red Oak leaves, and Mexican Sage. This bucket, which has hosted bouquets from Maggie’s engagement party to this lily arrangement, falls in that range of purple between grape and aubergine. 

The lily color is not amethyst or lilac but akin to a red grape. In the French and British English languages, the eggplant is referred to as aubergine whereas we use the term to describe the color. Regardless, such a color, such a richness of hues and conglomeration of shades, proves to be a Farmer’s favorite for fall bouquets. Keep your eyes peeled, for you’ll begin to see the color in dogwood leaves, beautyberry, and in the kaleidoscope of fall color that is commencing.

Yet, this color bodes well in a pizzazz filled bouquet of other riotous fall colors such as orange and soft scarlet. Pyracantha or “fire thorn” strikes as a fabulous complement to the rich purple of the lilies and a bit of green from papyrus, silver from artemisia, cinnamon and green from magnolia, blue green from rosemary, and all tints in between from some autumnal dogwood boughs. Dressed up in a white glaze anduze urn, this combo of plants provide a tableau of fall delights, perfectly elegant for any setting.

Taking stems from the florist and mixing them with garden goodies is this Farmer’s favorite. So take some inspiration from nature or your florist’s cooler and pay homage to the grand bounty and fantastic brilliance that is fall. These lilies have perfumed the house for days and I wish each of you could smell them. In the words of Clairee Belcher, “I’m just too colorful for words…” and this Farmer wishes the same for you! Happy fall ya’ll!