Photo by Gigapic
Gardens are all about color.
Photo by Cheryl Pedemonti
If we can learn how to use color (or not use it) than we can effectively design with color to reinforce our overall design intentions or concept.
Here are the basics. First, we have the color wheel.
You get Secondary colors by mixing two primary colors together:
Red + Blue = Violet
Blue + Yellow = Green
Yellow + Red = Orange
Complimentary Colors are those colors that are opposite colors on the color wheel. They compliment each other perfectly and provide the most contrast for each other. When combined in a planting, they create high energy and gain the most interest. Complimentary colors are Purple + Yellow ...
...and Orange + Blue.
Analogous Colors are those colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. They are similar and go together well, but do not offer the most contrast. They are harmonious colors and create low energy in the garden.
There are warm analogous colors...
and cool ones ...
Photo by Dog of the Forest
The Warm Colors are Red, Yellow and Orange. They are the loud and bold colors! They appear to advance or jump out at you. Have you ever noticed how when looking at a photograph your eye will see the red color first?
Photo by Perry W 1958
If you want to feature something such as a sculpture, entry way or fountain, put warm or hot-colored plants adjacent to the object you want to feature. The viewer's eye will immediately be drawn to that object.
Photo by serialplantfetishist
In garden design, the warm colors will make a large space appear smaller.
Photo by Carl's Bits of Nature
When used in the background, foreground objects appear larger by contrast.
Photo by Mark Fountain52
When used en masse, objects advance toward the viewer.
Warm colors can make objects seem larger and spaces feel smaller. They also create high energy.
The Cool Colors are Violet, Blue and Green. These colors appear to recede or fade away in the garden. They are the pastels and paler colors and they are low energy and relaxing colors. This photo of the Chanticleer Gardens in Pennsylvania shows good use of cool colors.
Cool colors can make a small space feel larger.
When used in the background, cool colors have little impact on the foreground.
They can make objects feel smaller or appear farther away.
Value is the lightness or darkness of the color. Variations in value are used to create a focal point for the design. The greater the contrast in value, the greater the impact the planting will have.
Hue is the saturation of color. Primary colors are pure hue. Intensity is the purity of color or amount of pigment.
Color should please the artist and be appropriate for the purpose.
It should also possess unity and offer variety of interest.
Photo by Lauren Wayman
Color can and should be used as linkage in the garden to link two or more spaces together.
It is just one of the threads that can tie the whole design together, thus creating harmony.
Photo by lancasteruk
And unity and harmony should be the goal of every garden designer.