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Designing with Color

By P. Allen Smith October 19, 2009

Every time I come to a garden center or nursery in the spring, I’m always dazzled by all those beautiful flowers and varied colors. I find myself wanting to take them all home, but that’s really not the best approach for the well-designed garden.

mLuxe Pictures 011To help me focus, I let color be my guide. A simple rule of thumb I follow is to choose plants that either have blooms or foliage in the same color family. The good news is that there are lots of different color families.

Just take the primary colors. Consider all of the variety just in the color red. And when it comes to blue, it can range from sky blue all the way to purple. And among the yellows, you can go from chartreuse to orange. And then there are the flowers that bloom white and the plants that have gray foliage, they are the amiable sort of relatives that get along with every color family.

Color can evoke certain moods. Reds and oranges can make are energetic, while pale blues and pale lavenders can evoke a restful, cool feeling.

The other thing these hot and cool colors seem to do is play with our sense of space. You see, hot reds jump forward and make a space seem smaller, where as subtle colors like pale blue make a space feel much more expansive.

Another thing to consider when putting color combinations together is the individual growing requirements for each plant. You can get that off the tags or through the nursery.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Don’t forget. Green is a color, too.