On a recent trip to Florida, I looked out my hotel window to a wall of living greenery. Vines in wild abandonment scrambled over the structured plantings, creating a headache for the groundskeeping crew but providing an oasis of soothing green color for me: the perfect color note to rest weary eyes after a long day of travel.
Color is the emotional element in any garden. While texture, form, scale and line are equally important to good garden design, it is color that evokes our immediate and most personal response. Color can alter our mood; it can excite or quiet our mind. Color and color combinations are paramount.
To help you think of color as an emotion, try this fun exercise that I did in a Master Gardening class. Jot down the following eight colors: yellow, red, green, blue, orange, purple, white, and pink. Now, list three words that describe your feelings about each color. For example, green to me is tranquility, healing, and harmony. Yellow is happiness, joy, and inspiration. This exercise will give you an awareness of the power of color, and what role it plays in your overall garden design.
When chosing color schemes for your garden, think about what moods you would like to evoke in each area. Cool colors tend to be restful, they are less conspicuous, and tend to recede. Planting cool colors around a garden bench in the corner of the garden would create a calm and meditative space. Warm colors, on the other hand, stimulate the eye and demand your attention. They would work well in an area that is used for entertaining, or they could provide a warm welcome at the entrance to your house.
Here are examples of both cool and warm color palettes, already put together for you by Botanical Interests. The Sweet Baby Blues packet has cool blues, violets, lavenders and white. In contrast, the Hummingbird Haven packet features warm, vivid colors such as red and orange.
As a botanical artist, my garden is an extension of my paint box. It is another way I can play with color. I don’t think I have ever planted the same color combination twice over the years. I love to experiment with color to create a mood. My garden is the one place where I am free to please only myself.
“The Color Wheel” by January’s Featured Artist: Peggy Turchette