Plant the Rainbow: Using Color in Garden Design
The color provided by flowers and foliage is particularly valuable in a garden. It can be used in a number of different ways, perhaps to evoke a particular mood or to give areas of the garden a theme or look.
If you spend a fair amount of time enjoying your garden from indoors, it makes sense to provide displays of rich color that are easily visible from the house, perhaps in pots and containers on the patio, or in beds and borders close to the windows. Harmonious colors that blend well together create a strong but restful feel; use softer, pastel hues farther away from the house because they show up better at a distance than saturated colors.
A garden or border composed of mostly white-flowering plants creates a cool, calming feel that is most striking at dusk, when the blooms glow in the fading light. Try using cream and pale yellow flowers, as well as very pale pink and blue ones, to prevent the effect from becoming stark and clinical. Silver-leaved and variegated plants will provide interest once the flowers have faded.
Fiery colors, such as reds, oranges, and intense pinks, demand attention, but they should be used with care: they attract the eye away from softer shades and, if planted at the far end of the garden, may make the yard feel smaller. Often the simplest way to deal with hot-hued plants is to group them together and create a condensed and spectacular injection of color. Alternatively, combine them with contrasting shades, such as rich blue or purple, to mitigate the effect.
It is important to remember that green is also a color, and is the most commonplace in virtually every garden. There are many different shades of green but, generally, it has a restful effect, and gardens that are planted for foliage tend to be serene spaces. Set against other colors, though, green generally fades into the background, so use plants with variegated foliage or white or pastel-colored flowers to shine out and provide additional interest.