Discussion of Colors, Forms or Varieties forum: Dahlia Color Chart Mistakes

 
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Imageteddahlia
Jan 31, 2012 12:47 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Many years ago, the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK published a set of color swatches(884 swatches) so that colors of flowers and plant materials could be described by the closest color swatch. The set of swatches was very expensive(and it is still being sold today for only 176 pounds plus shipping). The American Dahlia Society used to use these color swatches to describe colors of dahlias. This system was much more complex than just saying something like "Art's Glory BB FD RHS Chip 133" because people who shop for dahlias do not have an RHS chart. So, the American Dahlia Society needed to group together the chips that were the common colors of dahlias. So far this story is very logical and straightforward.

What happened next is the problem. Certain dahlia colors are obvious and have "easy" names: White, yellow, pink, red orange, and purple are the colors that just about everybody who is not color blind knows well. For some reason, the people at the ADS felt that these common colors were not descriptive enough for the colors of dahlias and added some what I call "contrived" colors to the list: dark pink, dark red, lavender, and bronze. Certainly dark pink and dark red are reasonable colors but lavender and bronze are very "contrived " colors that do not translate well to the average person on the street.

A few years ago, it was apparent that the 884 RHS color(colour to them) chart was too expensive and too cumbersome to use. A team of very experienced people was formed to create a "dahlia specific" color chart that would just include the chips that are common to dahlia colors. The met several times and selected the appropriate chips and had them printed. (The printing of these color chips was so difficult that the printer lost money and said they would not do it again!).

What that team did not do was to review the color names for the groups of chips. They just brought over the antiquated, inadequate(and even inaccurate) color names that had been selected many years ago.

And that brings us to the proposed subject of this thread. What do you have to say about the color naming system that is currently used by the American Dahlia Society? Do you have problems knowing what color a dahlia flower will really be because the of the inadequate color naming process? Do you have some proposals to improve it?
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageMaryNZ
Jan 31, 2012 1:30 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

To me, purple and orange only mean dark colours, just as red does, with lilac (or mauve) and apricot being the counterparts of pink. I would not call lilac a pale purple any more than I would call baby girl pink a pale red. This was pretty standard until about the turn of the millenium around here, but I now see many pale things labeled as purple or orange.

Bronze is just silly. Especially when you have an apricot flower with purplish leaves, and both leaves and flower are being called bronze.

Then there is the issue that Dahlias do not have a fixed colour, they have a colour range. The degree of light and dark varies. "Salmon" blooms shift from more yellow to more pink. "Lavender" blooms may be pink at times and lilac at others.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Jan 31, 2012 7:05 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
What color is pink? Here in the USA it is a red with low saturation. Actually the dictionary definition is:
"any of a group of colors bluish red to red in hue, of medium to high lightness, and of low to moderate saturation"
Translated that seems to mean light red even if the red has some blue in it.
Hue is a color term. The hue of pink lies between red, white and magenta colors.

Nowhere in these definitions are colors that have yellow in them.

In the dahlia color charts there are several chips in both the pink and dark pink charts that have more than just a little bit of yellow in them. An example is PK 15.
Thumb of 2012-02-01/teddahlia/c5cba9
I do not have my scanner working right now and this is the best I could do of matching PK 15. Is this color pink?
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageRedmondPhyllis
Jan 31, 2012 9:04 PM CST
Name: Phyllis Stengl
Sequim, WA
Deer are beautiful if they don't e
Last year, I got the ADS books and most of what I got was not useful to where I'm at. I didn't join this year as I didn't want all that paper. But you know . . .if they printed those color chips within their publication (rather than charging the $60 for them) so there would be widespread access to the colors, I may just go back to being a member (beyond local dahlia society member.)

And as one that lives in the northwest, I know what color a salmon is. But is it supposed to be . . . fresh cut open raw salmon? Baked? Half baked? Smoked? How about Chinook, Copper River, Silver or Sockeye? Rolling my eyes.

And Ted, that looks like orange to me! Reminds me of a new one I grew last year, AC CJ (that I thought was AC Firefly.) Guess we all have to be looking at the same flower to come to perfect accord of color identification . .. . maybe not then either. Hilarious!

ImageMaryNZ
Jan 31, 2012 10:39 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

Yes, definitely orange!

I agree, Phyllis. The colour charts need to be cheap or free, and widely available, to be useful. It's not just whether they tell porkies or not. If they can't make them cheap, they should look for a popular and widely available interior decorators' paint chart - they kind of thing that is in every paint store, and let people poke holes in that and use it.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 1, 2012 10:55 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I am going to suggest to the ADS that they scan the color charts on a photo scanner and place the colors on the ADS web site. Even though the colors would vary a bit from computer monitor to monitor, it would be a whole lot better than nothing. By the way, they did not include the chip number of the variety in the classification book until recently, They had the good sense to do that so maybe they will do this for us.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageRedmondPhyllis
Feb 1, 2012 11:25 AM CST
Name: Phyllis Stengl
Sequim, WA
Deer are beautiful if they don't e
But the color itself isn't printed in the classification book . . . is it? Did I blow right by it in the plethora of paper that they sent?
Imageteddahlia
Feb 1, 2012 12:15 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Putting the color charts on line is very easy. Printing the colors in the classification book with any accuracy at all would be very expensive. And how many of the general public have classification books anyway? I bet that the ADS would worry that judges would use the inaccurate colors in the classification book to determine dahlia colors. The actual color chips are very well printed and very accurate. Having said that, when judges are trying to match a flower color to the individual chips, it is quite often that no chip is very close. Example: black red colors. Some flowers are darker than any of the chips. The darkest chip in the color chart is in the purple chips. Some judges have classified black red flowers as purple because of this.

Maybe a compromise would be to sell a brochure printed with the colors. High quality printing on coated papers can do pretty well.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
Imageedewitt
Feb 1, 2012 12:27 PM CST
Name: Eric DeWitt
Mountainair, NM
Being fairly new I do see the color scheme as pretty vague at times and sometimes not even accurate. Lavender and pink cover so much of a spectrum I honestly don't think I could fairly assess what the color is sometimes. Sometimes pinks look purple and purples look pink. It's a mess to me.
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 1, 2012 10:18 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

I think having the colour chips online makes a lot of sense, Each chip with its number could also be CC (Creative Commons) Licensed, so that growers could put them next to their flowers on their catalogues - those growers who put other classification details anyway. It would help to show that Dahlia A is a yellower orange than Dahlia B even if screens differ; and if Dahlia A was photographed in very different weather from Dahlia B, giving different colour distortions.

CC licensed images can be made freely available for commercial purposes (e.g. attribution license), but somewhere in the online grower catalogues, ADS would need to be acknowledged as the creator of the colour chips.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 18, 2012 12:07 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I have been researching(if you call internet surfing research) the science of color names. Here is an interesting quote:

"Today every natural language that has words for colors is considered to have from two to twelve basic color terms. All other colors are considered by most speakers of that language to be variants of these basic color terms. English contains the eleven basic color terms "black," "white," "red," "green," "yellow," "blue," "brown," "orange," "pink," "purple" and "gray." Italian and Russian have twelve, distinguishing blue and azure. That doesn't mean English speakers cannot describe the difference of the two colors, of course; however, in English, azure is not a basic color term because one can say bright sky blue instead, while pink is basic because speakers do not say light red."

Dahlias color names include white, red, yellow, orange, pink and purple that are on this list. Dahlias have two names not included on the list: lavender and bronze. Perhaps that explains why we have a difficult time understanding the color terms lavender and bronze as they are not basic color terms in English.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 18, 2012 1:01 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

I have only ever heard light purple around here in the last ten years or so. Different people have called it different things, mostly lilac and mauve. Until recently, while some people said light orange, far more would have said apricot or peach. Turquoise or teal also tended to be named, rather than called blue, until recently. Of course, when we had black and white books and black and white TV, accurate colour descriptors mattered far more, and we had black and white TV here for about a generation longer than you did in the US.

Colour names evolve, too. Red was the colour of the fox, and of red hair, until the word orange was derived from the colour of the fruit, apparently. Then the definition of red shifted to include scarlet and even crimson.

Bronze, as we all see when we pass a statue, can mean brown with turquoise streaks. Fortunately, you don't often get that look in a Dahlia.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 19, 2012 7:03 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
English contains the eleven basic color terms "black," "white," "red," "green," "yellow," "blue," "brown," "orange," "pink," "purple" and "gray." .

All colors can be placed into one of those terms. Other color terms are descriptive such apricot or salmon. In many cases, they certainly are useful terms but they can all be described as one of the basic color names apricot is an orange, salmon is a pink.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 19, 2012 7:41 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

That salmon is a form of pink I can agree with. I can see that if you add white to orange, you end up with apricot. However, I would no more call apricot a pale orange that I would call pink a pale red. To do so is incorrect in my dialect of English, even though people are starting to do so in recent years. It's the same with pale purple - to me there is no such thing. It is lavender, lilac or mauve. I truly had never heard anyone talk of pale purple until the last decade. Dialect differences are breaking down with universal access to streaming media.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 20, 2012 11:18 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I am not much concerned what color you call something or for that matter what I call the color of a dahlia. I like using descriptive terms too. I am concerned that all dahlia colors should be placed into the common color terms so that each actual color of a dahlia is under one of the terms. And that the color breaks between the colors is scientifically done. The main colors should be from the generally accepted 11 color names. Once you have the color chips for each of the main colors sorted out, one could certainly name some of the chips as do the paint companies.

On this site authors have used words such as apricot, coral, amber, light purple, lilac, mauve, turquoise, teal, scarlet , crimson, cream, salmon, plum, magenta and many others. Each person using the color term seems to know what color the term represents but in reality as color names stray from the 11 basic colors, they lose their descriptive qualities. I have no idea what color teal and mauve are(is it a guy thing?). I think I know what lilac is but since there are numerous shades of lilac flowers, my color chip may be different than yours. Once the color chips of dahlia colors are properly assigned, a subset of common names could be applied to certain color chips.

Meanwhile, I will be using numerous descriptive names for colors of dahlias too. Some that I have not seen here are: gold, hot pink, brick red, black red, competition orange, cherry red, maroon, violet, mustard, lemon, heliotrope,
royal purple, blood red, and many, many more.


We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 20, 2012 12:19 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

However, you started from a contention that lavender and bronze are errors of judgement, because they are not being used to describe the colours that most people would use them for. The Wikipedia page you quoted is also basing its assessment on common usage by native speakers, but they should have specified that the native speakers of English were in the US.

Around here, if someone describes lilac as purple, the assumption is that they are not a native speaker of English, every bit as much as if they were to describe pink as red. Speaking of pink, the study cited in Wikipedia is incorrect. Not every language develops a term for pink before it develops a term for orange. In Māori, pink is "ma whero" (pale red), whereas orange is "karaka" or "parakaraka" depending on dialect - a distinct word, which, like our orange, is drawn from the name of a fruit.

There isn't really a science of colour naming, language is dynamic, and many colour names come from the names of objects. There is a science of colour perception, and increasingly this is telling us that colour perception is individualised but culturally influenced. Many people, including me, see colour differently with each eye. So, unless you go for RGB codes or something equally ghastly, you are going to have some disagreement of where the boundaries fall (e.g. between red and purple), and some dialect differences about which colour names should be distinct.

It interests me that the colours as they stand are almost as I would have them. Lavender has its own name - it is not called pale purple. The point of contention here is that it includes a lot of things most people would call pink. Bronze has its own name. It is not called orange. The point of contention here is that most people would call it apricot, peach, or in the case of the yellower flowers currently called bronze, yellow or amber. So I would keep Lavender, but rename some flowers from lavender to pink, and I would keep the category that is currently bronze, rename it as apricot, and shift some of the yellowest flowers in it to yellow.

Also, if people are buying their Dahlias for a colour co-ordinated garden or for flower arranging, it is more useful to them to have more colour divisions rather than fewer. These people can also be helped by every vendor having more than one photo of each cultivar they sell available online, preferably taken at different times of the season, or at least in different light. This can be done for free on Flickr if they don't have a website.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 20, 2012 12:21 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

OK, wrong, you started with PK15. Some pinks also need reassigning!
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 20, 2012 1:53 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
There is definitely an argument for lavender as historically flower colors have included lavender. You are at least in favor of renaming "Bronze". I feel that the bronze colors could all be placed into yellows and oranges. You would rather maintain a set of colors with another more descriptive name. You like the name apricot, and if I were to name a category it would be "Gold". I would still rather scrap the bronze color category and put them into yellow and orange.

We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
ImageMaryNZ
Feb 20, 2012 2:18 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

So a native speaker of US English would truly call this orange? As their first choice of colour word with no prompting?
Thumb of 2012-02-20/MaryNZ/fed081


My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
Imageteddahlia
Feb 20, 2012 5:11 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Thumb of 2012-02-20/teddahlia/16e662 your color
Thumb of 2012-02-20/teddahlia/1b40a8 PK20 on dahlia color chart
both look pink to me.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.

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