Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Color Wheeling

For those who have trouble knowing what colors compliment each other in the garden, especially in pots, there are several ways to proceed.  These are not listed in the order of best first - worst last.
All foliage in my shaded window box.

First:  Throw caution to the wind and combine anything that pleases your beating heart.  Some of the biggest mistakes are the best combinations.  And if you love it, well who cares if it clashes in the eyes of someone else.

Second:  Set plants together in your cart or on a cabinet at the nursery.  Although they may change colors a bit as they grow, they can still give you an idea of what you'll have later in the summer.  This won't work well if you (like me) shop at many different local nurseries.
A riot of colors.

Third:  Look inside your house at the colors you've combined and what pleases you every single time you walk into that room.  Use those colors in the garden.

Forth:  If you are timid about combining colors, buy annuals and see if it works.  You will know what looks good when it comes time to spend more money on something more permanent (perennials.)

Fifth:  You can't go wrong with a little white (or cream) plant.  All white works or a single plant in with other colors.

Sixth:  Some gardeners consider the colors of their house and porches.  I have a light yellow home and there has been absolutely no color that didn't look good.  My garden accent is blue and the same thing - some look better than others but nothing really clashes.  Part of the reason is I have a perennial- cottage-garden riot of colors.
My old copper boiler held a purple/yellow combo last year.  

Seventh:  Consider the hard accents in your garden.  Do you have a six foot blue wine bottle tree?  If so, blue is going to be a sure fire coordination color.  Do you have a large red shed in the yard?  If so, red is going to be another coordination color.  Do you care?  

Eighth:  We sometimes forget there is a natural background color for every garden.  Mine is green because I live in the country and have a lot of trees and fields.  Others may be red or gray if you live in an urban situation.  Still others may have shades of browns in a more arid climate.  We all have a canvas colored by things other than our own plants.

Ninth:  Ask your nursery people to help you with picking out plant combinations.  They have so much experience, they've pretty much seen and done it all.  If you go to a nursery you trust, they will not push just expensive plants or things they want to get out the door.  

Tenth:  For the timid or beginner, get some paint chips from your favorite home center and see just what looks good together.  Because most chips are in shades of primary colors, it gives you an idea if that periwinkle blue flower will look good with the chartruese sweet potato vine and the tangerine daisy.  Lay these on a sheets of construction paper the color of your background(s).  Green for lawn or woods, another for the color of your house, and a light blue for the sky.  Are your color combinations vivid and enhance the whole look?  Do they blend in so much they hardly show?  Do they make you smile or cringe?

Don't get so locked into the color combination you bought in the spring that you'll be sad when one of the colors isn't there later in the summer.  I usually have one plant not make it through the entire summer.  The lovely plant on my front porch (top) had a stunning white lantana included until fall and it gave up and let the other plants overpower.  

Take a young child with you when picking out flowers/foliage and they will have a riot of colors for no rhyme or reason other than they love them.  Some pretty good advice for all of us.  Whatever you pick should be because you love them and not because someone else tells you it's "right" or "the in thing" or "we must always".  As with all gardening, it should be what you love!    

Gracie isn't into gardening but she is certainly into posing
with plants.  Good enough for Grandma!

1 comment:

  1. Diane - I honestly think you should publish your own magazine - or at least some books. I missed your "bee" entry, and jus tnow enjoyed it. I love Gracie's pose. I think a calendar of your garden is in store. Might sell well in a wine shop. I bought an interesting plant the other day at the little spot in Norway, IL (if you haven't been that way, it's a must). It's a hanging black eyed susan. It should be "trellised" and the man who sold it to me said that few other folks sell them. You should stop by and see it. Right now it's on my deck, hanging in the center of the pergola. Enough jabber - great piece of course. Hugs to you and to Jerry.