Create a color masterpiece
By: Garden Gate staff
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How to design a garden color scheme
Although it’s tempting to buy every pretty flower you see, there are benefits to creating a purposeful color scheme in your garden. The way you use color can completely change the way you feel in there — it can make you happy and excited or relaxed and calm. But how do you start? The good old color wheel from high school art class can help. Keep reading to learn how to create monochromatic, analogous and complementary color schemes in your garden.
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The simplest color scheme, monochromatic, means you work with tints and shades of only one color. In the garden, one color can give a space unity, draw attention to an area of interest or provide a background.
One-color gardens don’t have to be boring. The shape and texture contrasts between the angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) and lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora) in this photo below keep the combination interesting. Separate monochromatic beds from other gardens with green space or a path to highlight the color.
You can even change a one-color bed to a different monochromatic theme from season to season. Be sure the two colors coordinate, so that any early blooming plants that overlap flowering times with late-season varieties will not clash during the transition.
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An analogous color combination consists of three colors next to each other on the color wheel. For instance, in this photo, the violet-purple flowers of nicotiana (Nicotiana hybrid), the blue flowers of lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora) and the blue-green foliage of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus cinerea) blend together beautifully. Notice how the flowers in the photo are all a similar color intensity. That’s a good way to ensure that no one plant overshadows another. If the nicotianas were pale, the lisianthus would grab the attention.
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Two colors across from each other on the color wheel make up a complementary color scheme. These pairings of a warm and a cool color create dramatic, attention-grabbing combinations great for highlighting key features of the garden. Complementary pairings play up color contrasts and make each element seem more vivid and intense. Try red and green, purple and yellow or blue and orange. Doesn’t that orange French marigold (Tagetes patula) just pop mixed into the planting of blue floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum)? You wouldn’t notice how very orange the marigold is if it were planted with a white geranium (Pelargonium hybrid).