a rose can make a simple colour statement that is at once unforgettable

Colourful language: The importance of colour to garden design

As we head into the summer months, we can recognise that this is a peak time for colour within garden design. Roses make a graceful reappearance, geums sprout up playfully from the ground and lavender blesses us with its quasi-addictive scent once more. While an abundance of colour is a feast for the eyes, it is important to consider the way in which it is incorporated into our garden design to maximise its efficacy.

Illustration of the use of colour in a garden design
Use of Alliums in my own garden to provide a colour statement; the colour is the more striking with the neutral background

Consider for a moment an artist’s approach to a painting. Mixtures of various colours are meticulously chosen by the artist to create a striking tableau. A similar outlook can be adopted with regards to garden design. What colours will blend harmoniously to project a certain atmosphere within your  garden? For example, recent Chelsea 2023 gold medal winner Sarah Price designed her show garden through the lens of a fine art painter with soft complementary tones and textures. (https://www.gardenista.com/posts/sarah-price-2023-chelsea-flower-show/)

Also worthy of note is the colour wheel. How do we incorporate cool and warm colours into different sections of the garden design? White tones also help blend colours together to make them “pop” and pleasing to the eye. Helen Dillon, the inspired Irish gardener, separated a “hot” coloured border from a “cold” one in her garden in Ranelagh. Colour is a key ingredient with regards to the visual and sensory affect you wish to create in your garden design.

Primulas making impact in a garden design
A grouping of Primulas showing colour range in the pink and orange spectrums

Another alternative to an impressionist approach to a garden (think Monet) is splashes of colour amongst a more uniform colour palette. Taking a filmic point of view, Spielberg utilises colour in this way in Schindler’s List. This use of contrasting colour makes for a striking design point within one’s garden. This can be achieved through plants, wall features or even a boardwalk.

To conclude, let us not forget another key colour in garden design– green. A colour to unify and bring the other colours, be it hot or cold, into a succinct harmony.

Using the colour green to ccreate harmony in a garden design
Green can be the most important colour in a garden design
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