Focus Your Garden Palette

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Color is all around us, and in the backyard it’s one of our resources. It’s also a unique means of expressing ourselves. When we decorate our homes, we are apt to use colour schemes — whether following personal taste or current trends. In our gardens, we are more eclectic and utilize crops.

Gertrude Jeckyll, a British Victorian-era gardener, shown how to harness color by designing her boundaries around a specific colour theme. From the late 1800s, the artist Monet created portions of his garden at Giverny as a living palette where single species were massed in beds — the purple and lavenders of the iris, the crimson and pink of the peony and the blues of the delphiniums.

Below are a few ideas that show us how magnificent limiting color palettes might be.

Brian Maloney Design Associates

Together with the expeditions of the great plant hunters of the Victorian era, gardens from the Western world were full of a multitude of exciting and new plants. It’s no wonder that the popularity of the herbaceous edge came to the fore. In this traditional-style border, we can see the planting scheme weaves plants of colours and peaks, but there is no defined colour scheme.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Where blue meets violet. The second phase in our color-theme boundaries is using one part of the colour spectrum. Here we see a planting of cooler colours with catmint, Nepeta mussinii, blending with mauve alliums and deep purple salvias.

WA Design Architects

Muted colors. Gray and glaucous leaves planted en masse need not be boring. In the last decade, alliums, particularly the large globe varieties, have become very popular as plants. They stand over a mixed planting of ‘Cotton Lavender’, Santolina chamaecyparissus, and French lavender, Lavandula stoechas. Their purple blossoms resonate with all the butterfly-shape lavender blossoms and bring life to the edge.

Summerset Gardens/Joe Weuste

Hot pinks. We can observe tones of pink used as the main theme within this border, together with touches of purple which increase the energy of the colour. The clever use of cooling whites and blues prevents the sexy pink from overpowering the edge.

Washed denim. Blue is a heating color — think of the sky and the ocean and how they influence us. It can be tricky to use by itself, as it can bleach in solid sun and seem to recede from the backyard against different colours. Here, the numerous colors of the hydrangeas mix, creating an incredible spring screen.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Warm yellows. Yellows aren’t easy to use en masse in a backyard. Here, using muted yellows from the warmer end of the yellow spectrum functions as a backdrop for the brighter colours of the euphorbias and holds the composition together.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Refreshing greens. Green is the backdrop of all gardens, yet with a careful selection of plants it may make a wonderful color-theme planting. The foliage in this edge is equally refreshing and soothing and makes me think of the traditional temple gardens of Japan.

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