Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Colour in the Garden

Along with my vegetable boxes I planted a small container of zinnias.  Pretty flowers are my first love.  But those darn crows had other ideas.  I don't know what my box of flower seeds is hiding but the crows are bound and determined to get it out, whatever 'it' is, and in the process have pulled seeds and seedlings from the box.  So I gave up and bought some pretty flowers instead. 

African daisies, Blue salvia and Verbena.  Blues, pinks and purples.  But when I walked back up to the house and looked at my flower box I was somewhat disappointed.  Can you see my flower box in this photo?
I know where it is but I hardly notice it.  Look to the left of the blue trug.  There it is.  Now I know the flowers are small but you would think those lovely colours would bounce out at you.  Not the case.  What I do see are all the yellow wildflowers blooming in the grass. The reason is that cool colours like blue tend to recede into the landscape. This can be good if you want to create a sense of distance but in my large yard I've got enough real distance between myself and the flowers. Hot colours like those yellow wildflowers focus your attention and draw your eye.  So in a large space like mine a hot colour can make things seem closer than they are.

If you're interested in how colour plays a role in your garden I would recommend readingThe Harmonious Garden: Color, Form, and TextureThe Harmonious Garden: Color, Form and Texture by Catherine Ziegler.  The main part of this book is organized by colour using shades from a 16 colour wheel.  Each page features of a photo of flowers and plants from the colour group specified.  For instance, under the colour Red-Violet/Yellow-Green, there is a photo of Hosta sieboldiana, Tulipa 'Queen of the Night' and Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea' illustrating that colour combination.  The plants in the photo are identified, followed by a description of why the colour combination works or doesn't work.  Also included are details regarding texture and contrasting forms, bloom time, exposure and seasons.  While I may not always agree with the author's colour choices I do love that this book offers me a photo of almost every conceivable colour combination so that I can visualize what my own plant choices might look like.  So if you've ever wondered if blue and yellow go together or if that beautiful red penstemon will look good with the Lady's mantle this is the book to find out.


  1. Marguerite
    Thanks for the fave on Blotanical! I have a copy of The Harmonious Garden in the bookcase next to my computer. A great book.

  2. My pleasure, all the photos of gardens around the world were incredibly inspiring. One of these days I would love to do a trip based around gardening. You're very lucky.

  3. hanks for the book tip! I agree though, if you want impact from your window you need swaths of the hot colours. Shots of red and yellow. Black eyed Susans would be lovely for fall.

  4. Laura, you're welcome. I love books and always have one on the go. Always happy to share when I think I've found something good.