13 wildflowers to create a von Gogh landscape using a yellow planting palette

The 19th century painter, von Gogh once said this of yellow, his favourite colour – yellow is capable of charming God.  The famous painter passed away on the 29th of July 1890 so commemoration of this, Life Landscapes, has decided to explore the indigenous yellow flowers that von Gogh would be inspired to paint for a yellow palette garden.  

van gogh inspires landscapers

Self-Portrait with Straw Hat © Metropolitan Museum of Art

In landscaping yellow is considered a happy playful hue associated with childhood, making it a great planting palette for school gardens.

How van Gogh has inspired yellow palette gardens 

A von Gogh landscape is basically a garden that utilises yellow in its planting palette, by planting loads of yellow flowers and yellow flowering shrubs. Von Gogh’s favourite colour was yellow and it evident in all is landscape painting.

van gogh landscapes using yellow flowers in gardening

Sunflowers
© The Yorck Project

A yellow flowering planting list for a South African von Gogh garden

Yellow stars (Hypoxis species)

This genus of flower get stunning butter yellow flowers. The African potato has received loads of yellow press in the muti-trade after being declared a cure for HIV.  There are four different species of hypoxis and they look great planted together in grassland gardens. Of the seven  hypoxis species, six of them have yellow flowers suitable for a South African von Gogh garden. Some of them are more suited to garden environment than others.

    • African potato (Hypoxis hemerocallidea)
    • Hypoxis obtusa
    • Broad-leaved hypoxis (Hypoxis colchicifolia)
    • Hypoxis rigidula
    • Yellow Stars (Hypoxis angustifolia)
    • Hypoxis parvula

Yellow Everlasting (Helichrysum setosum)

You might as well call it a mini-sunflower, this perennial is strongly scented and likes fairly poor well-drained soils. It is covered in yellow flowers in summer and make a great Highveld garden specimen.

Bushy bulbine (Bulbine abyssinica)

As von Gogh said: “There is no blue without yellow and without orange” – landscapers agree – plant the bushy bulbine with a purple or blue palette plants. Already a very popular garden plant for water-wise garden the bushy bulbine gets stunning aurelian flower worthy of a von Gogh landscape. Landscapers like using it in rockeries and most indigenous flower beds.

van gogh's favourite colour is yellow

Wheatfield with Crows
© Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Cartwheels (Asclepias affinis)

Cartwheel flowers have a very unusual appearance and this plant a great one for attracting butterflies. This shrublet is incredibly hardy and likes a slightly warmer climate with limited frost.

Yellow arum (Zantedeschia jucunda)

The yellow arum is endemic to Mpumalanga and gets large golden trumpet-like flowers. It prefers less water than its Western Cape cousin. Landscaping tip: plant a stone bellow it as the roots are contractile. It is a very effective landscaping specimen. The yellow arum is considered more robust than the similar –looking Mapoch lily.

yellow flowers for the garden

Bushveld justicia (Justicia odora)

“How lovely yellow is! It stands for the sun”... and for the bushveld justicia! This flower loves full sun adding a sunny deposition to the garden.  It grows well with succulents in a xeriscape. This yellow flowering specimen is great Durban or Natal garden specimen.

Vermeerbos (Geigeria burkei)

Despite its delicate looks the Vermeerbos is a very hardy von Gogh landscape plant. It does well in grassland-type gardens and gets daisy-like flowers. It does have a wild and wonderful look about it even though it is so small.

Vermeerbos yellow palette garden

Mapoch lily (Zantedeschia pentlandii)

The Mapoch lily looks very similar to the yellow arum and it too would make the Dutch painter very happy.  It has a purple centre and grows in dense colonies. Flowers in November and has smaller leaves than the yellow arum.

Giant pineapple lily (Eucomis pallidiflora)

If you are looking for plant that resembles a pineapple look no further than the Eucomis pallidiflora. The yellow variety gets pale yellow flowers and makes for a wonderful  plant for a yellow palette garden and for the wet areas.

Gifbossie (Gnidia caffra)

Blending in well with the grasses the gifbossie gives a field of gold effect if planted en masse.  It is a water-wise plant and is a rain indicator flowering just before the rains.

Golden Daisy bush (Euryops pectinatus)

This gorgeous free-flowering shrubs is a  great one for school gardens, as daisy, daisy-chains are synonymous with childhood. This is an attractive, easy-to-grow, evergreen flowering shrub with dense, bright green foliage and golden yellow daisy flowers. Makes for an excellent herbaceous border.

yellow palette garden

Dwarf Wild Hibiscus (Hibiscus aethiopicus)

Despite its tiny size the Dwarf Hibiscus packs a punch with the insects it attracts. Does well in grasslands and veld gardens and is as pretty as a picture in a Gauteng or Durban garden.

Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae)

This happy yellow flowering plant is invasive in other parts of the world but in South Africa it is indigenous and gets stunning butter yellow flowers. It is also the key ingredient in water blommetjie bredie (water flower stew).