Using Colour in my Garden.

Colour is such a personal thing. The colours you wear may say something about you  – extrovert or conservative, trendsetter or practical. But with clothing it’s so easy to ring the changes from day to day. Not quite so easy in the garden.

Colour in my garden

Charles Blanc’s Colour Theory – colours positioned opposite each other increase in intensity when placed next to one another : Red/Green, Orange/Blue, Yellow/Purple.

So, using Colour in your Garden … will you be extrovert or refined good taste? Cool, calm and collected tones of blue, or the dazzling intensity of orange and purples? I have my own personal dislike in the garden – pink and yellows combined.  Pink is so pretty but I don’t think it’s a great mixer , though it can look great with tones of pinks, blues and mauves. Just not yellow. In my opinion.

Colour in my garden

The height of “good taste” may be the White Garden – white tulips, billowing Iceberg roses and so on, backed by hostas and stachys perhaps … but even the most famous White Garden, at Sissinghurst, isn’t entirely monochromatic, it has tones of green and grey too. And, after a while, perhaps an all-white garden may seem just a little tedious.


A glimpse through to the White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent.

I have written individual posts about colours in the garden.  Here is a round-up of the main considerations.

RED (more here)

Red is a hot primary colour and can add a little excitement to a border. It can draw attention to a feature or divert attention away from an eyesore.

Red draws attention to a feature.

Red draws attention to a feature.

It is not a restful colour and looks best with green foliage,

Colour in my garden

or in the weaker light of spring and autumn, or in a monochromatic scheme.

Deep red looks more subtle, here mixed with grasses.

Deep red looks more subtle, here mixed with grasses.

YELLOW (more here)

Yellow is another hot Primary colour and looks lively and cheerful in a border. It looks good mixed with tawny shades in autumn …

Colour in my garden

and striking when mixed with its Complementary purple or blue.

Colour in my garden

Van Gogh used this colour contrast in many of his paintings.

Yellow/blue contrast, Van Gogh.

Yellow/blue contrast, Van Gogh.

BLUE(more here)

Who doesn’t love blue in a border? It is a cool recessive Primary colour and is very calming in a scheme. It looks elegant and serene when mixed with white and pastel shades. It can add a little romance to your garden.

Using blue in the garden. Jardin

It tends to look a little bland on its own but adding its Complementary colour orange will make it sizzle.

Blue is enlivened by the presence of orange.

Blue is enlivened by the presence of orange.


ORANGE (more here)

Very much the colour of Autumn, Orange is a warm vibrant colour.

Autumn hues

Autumn hues

Place it next to blue or purple and its colour intensifies further,

Colour in my garden

producing a border bristling with energy.

Purple (more here)

Probably the colour I use most. Just think Alliums, Salvias, Verbena bonariensis, Lavender, Clematis…. I think it combines the merits of its constituent colours – the vibrancy of Red and the calmness of Blue.

I find it is a great mixer, looking elegant with creams and blues,

Colour in my garden

or striking with orange and yellow.

Colour in my garden

It changes its mood, intensifying as the light changes so needs careful handling to avoid looking “dead” or flat, so is always best when mixed with other lighter colours.

Colour in my garden

Of course, colour isn’t just confined to your plants.

Bloom 2015

Accent walls, fencing, sheds, cushions can all bring colour to your life outdoors.

Bloom 2015

Let your imagination run riot … as these designers did in recent Show Gardens!

Will your world be black and white, or glorious technicolour?

7 thoughts on “Using Colour in my Garden.

  1. In my own garden, I’m more relaxed and let nature have its way with self-seeders and so on but I do keep an eye on things and edit from time to time.
    Of course, light at different times of year and in different climate zones changes the effect of colour too.
    Glad you liked the post!


  2. These are very good examples of colour combinations. I also rarely plant on purpose regarding colours, but then maybe we do it without thinking (when we know well the plants).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Hardworking plants for herbaceous borders. | Jardin

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