Design & Decor - Design Ideas

Five ways to play with colour in the garden

Garden expert Frankie Flowers gives us the primaries on planting with colour

I often say, “Your property is a canvas and plants are the paints you use to create the ultimate landscape art piece.” Too often we forget about planting according to a palette, but for both gardens and containers, colour is key to attracting the eye, establishing a mood and creating the “wow” we all want.

Colour offers your garden cohesion. It allows you to delineate particular sections, give the garden either a wild multicolour or manicured monochromatic look, highlight some favourite features or create a focal point. In the world of colour theory, you’ll hear big words like monochromatic, analogous, complementary and polychromatic thrown around. I’m a firm believer that the simpler your colour scheme, the more impact it can have. Don’t overthink it—choose colour you’re comfortable with and use it as much as you can!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when adding colour to your plot.

1. Choose white for shady spaces or a night garden because they lighten dark areas and even cast a glow. White isn’t ideal for full-sun locations because the sunlight will minimize the contrast of the white blooms against the leafy greens—in other words, they’ll lose their pop.

2. Bright colours like yellow, orange and red are extremely powerful. They jump out at you, giving a garden energy. Brights like these suit large properties but may be too powerful for a small setting, making it feel even smaller.  

3. Soft colours and pastels are easy on the eyes and soothing to the soul. They make small spaces feel larger, but can get lost in large landscapes.

4. Plant for impact. I tend to use monochromatic and complementary colour schemes. To avoid over­whelming the eye, use no more than three contrasting colours in a single bed or container.

5. Associate colour schemes with seasons. In early spring, my garden is full of yellows and blues (a celebration of sunshine and sky), leading into orange and purple in summer (my version of tropical punch). In fall, I turn to Mother Nature for inspiration, using a combination of orange, red, purple and copper foliage and mirror these fiery hues in my container designs.


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