Most gardeners are drawn to a plant’s flower, particularly its color. Often, we think more is better. While colorful gardens are dynamic and fun, the real beauty lies in how colors appear in combination. And in how these plant partners look even when they are not in bloom. Foliage color and texture and plant forms give borders a well defined, interesting look even when few are blooming.
The choice of color schemes is yours. Some gardeners select plants with flowers that echo the colors and style of their house. White flowers near a house with white siding, or yellow and orange flowers near brick facades tie the structure to the landscape.
Knowing how colors work together will help you create interest and movement through the garden. Repeating colors or forms helps unify it.
Yellow, orange and red are warm colors that add vitality. Red energizes, but too much can be overstimulating. Cooler colors of blue and violet are soothing. Using only cool colors would be boring and lack focus, says Tracy DiSabato-Aust, author of “The Well Designed Mixed Garden.” For balance, she recommends using two-thirds cool colors and one-third warm colors.
DiSabato-Aust, gave a primer on color and design at the North Central Wisconsin Master Gardeners’ Garden Vision seminar in January. Color has three dimensions: hue, value and intensity.