When planning your garden basic design color principles apply both inside and outside.  Color schemes can be used in several different ways depending on the mood you wish to create.  When talking about color the conversation automatically goes to the basic color wheel. (Color Wheel courtesy of Sessions College)

There are primary colors: Red, Blue and Yellow; then the Secondary colors of Violet, Orange and Green and Tertiary colors which are colors made by mixing a primary color and an adjacent secondary color.  An example would be orange-red; yellow-orange or lime green which is a mixture of green and yellow.

color-wheel

So first let’s look at Complementary colors.  These are opposite each other on the color wheel like red and green, yellow and purple and orange and blue. These combinations offer the most contrast and provide visual stimulation.  Typically you will want to use more of the cooler color which recedes visually and that is balanced by less of the other color which will advance towards you.  The ‘Pop”!  But beware don’t pop”onesies” here and there.  It will cause the eye to jump all over.  Try to buy at least 3 of any plant.  You will be more successful if you plant in drifts of color and plants vs. trying to bring home one of every little goody you find.  I must say that I am also guilty of doing this.  Sometimes I just can’t resist and I will then use that one plant and test it out for a season and see if my soil, sun and climate will work for that newbie before buying more of them.  Experiment!  It is really hard to go wrong when planting since you can always move the plant if you don’t like where you placed it.

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Purple and yellow

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Red and Green
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Red and Green
Sprain Brook Walk Iris and Rhodedendron 178
Purple and Yellow
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Orange and Blue

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Analogous color schemes utilize neighboring hues on the color wheel.  They are typically warm or cool when most successfully used. Analogous colors lie between two primary colors like crimson. violet and violet-blue. These combinations are easy on the eye and the colors just seem to go together.  They are adjacent on the color wheel.

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Mohonk Mountain Hotel
yellow-orange-red
Yellow-Yellow Orange – Orange – Red Orange – Red
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Red Violet – Purple

When discussing color you will hear people refer to hue, value or chroma of a color.  The Hue is the name of the color such as red or blue. The Value of a color refers to its lightness or darkness and the Chroma is the strength of the color. Again, repetition is key in garden design.

Monochromatic schemes have one color used throughout.  In the case of the garden, green is a neutral color but even a garden can have too much green.  Look for different textures, heights and a variety of colors like, green, lime, yellow-green, blue-green so the view isn’t boring.  Hostas are a great example of the tremendous range of color available in a single plant species.  Heuchera is another! I bet you can find Heuchera in every color under the sun these days!  Always provide some darker and lighter plants for interest.  Relief in every color scheme can be added by sprinkling in whites.  This will break up the palette and keep the energy and the eye moving.  Remember that colors can be warm or cool.  Yellows can lean towards green or towards orange and this will guide you to the companion plants you might plant nearby.

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Monochromatic
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Monochromatic

 

Monochromatic- Can you tell Purple is my favorite garden color?
Monochromatic- Can you tell Purple is my favorite garden color?

Whatever your color scheme if you have a garden that you would like photographed call me!  I understand when the light is right, the bloom time is perfect and as a gardener I love my gardens and always want to preserve the moments that come and go and change almost daily.

You can find me at http://www.lensidesigns.com where you can link to my Flickr page that will showcase many of my photographs.  Need a gift?  I can help with that too.  I can have a print made for you to give as a gift, ready to hang on archival paper, no frame necessary.  Maybe treat yourself!!!

Happy Gardening!!!

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