Design & Decor - Design Ideas

Using colour in the landscape

Montreal landscaper Claude Cormier designs with a colourful joie de vivre

Colour lessons 

Blue Tree
For California's Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, Claude Cormier's team of six designers took a vineyard's ailing Monterrey pine, scheduled for removal, and adorned it with thousands of custom-made blue balls as a way of blending the tree with the sky. When the owner's young son lay under the pine and said “but the sky isn't really blue!” the designer realized the tree acted as a barometer that gauged subtle light fluctuations as the sky constantly changed colour.

Lesson 1:
Strong colour in your garden will visually amplify its natural elements.

Lipstick Forest
When designing an indoor garden for Montreal's convention centre, Cormier and his team wanted to reflect the city's joie de vivre, as well as add some colour to its long winters. They designed concrete tree trunks, then sprayed them the same shade of hot pink used in Montreal's tourism logo.

Lesson 2:
Gardens can shine in winter. Plant shrubs and trees with colourful bark, such as ‘Sibirica' redtwig dogwood; add something sculptural like a corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta'); then throw in a dramatic accessory—a large, black urn filled with berried branches, for example.

La Pergola
For the first biennial contemporary arts festival in Le Havre, France, Cormier used hundreds of thousands of coloured, translucent Christmas balls to create a suspended garden over the elegant pergola of the Hotel de Ville. He says the garden referred to the beginning of the Impressionist movement that took place in Normandy around Le Havre.

Lesson 3:
Hanging gardens can add dimension and interest to a space. Drape a structure with a selection of colourful vines—or a string of outdoor fairy lights—and watch your garden come alive.

For the 2003 L'été des Jardins in Lyons, France, Cormier wrapped tree trunks with 16,000 silk flowers, symbolizing, he says, “the artificiality of the constructed landscape.” He used the fabric as a reference to the historical importance of the silk industry to Lyons.

Lesson 4:
Create drama in your own garden by massing colourful plants that will bloom in unison.

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