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How to Create Nonstop Color in Your Garden

Choreograph the colors in your garden with tips from author and radio host Nellie Neal, the "Garden Mama."
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How to Achieve Non-Stop Color

In The NonStop Color Garden, Nellie Neal, a.k.a. "the Garden Mama," recommends planting from the top down - that is, using color on every level with trees, shrubs, flowering plants, vines and groundcovers. Choose a color theme that "spans the seasons or changes with them," she says. What color is currently trending? "I'm seeing a lot of what I call 'Dutch orange,'" Neal says. "Before I went to Holland, I thought I hated orange...But orange is historically a very important color there and they showed me hues I had never seen." Her favorite is a rich shade of creamsicle orange. "I have seen it in furniture, accessories and plants from geraniums to zinnias. With the right paint and plants, I plan to use that orange shade as an anchor color - it will go well with both my concrete pieces and the rusty iron that I adore."

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A Blue and Lilac Palette

Neal says this color spectrum is one of her favorites from her book. Here, the planks in a path echo the blue and lilac plants, so the color palette continues even after the growing season.

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Red in the Garden

When you're driving, red is a signal to stop. It also directs traffic in the garden; these laceleaf Japanese maples lead visitors along a walkway. Neal says red is on-trend. "I'm seeing more deep burgundy reds (think of an Abyssinian banana plant) and pinks both rosy and pale as a ghost. It would seem that drama will be a trend in the garden this year, if color writes the script."

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Photo: Courtesy of Cool Springs Press / Quarto Publishing Group / Photo by George Weigel

Design Your Space

"Garden Mama" Nellie Neal recommends keeping four to six colors in mind when you're shopping for plants, so new additions will fit in. The design for this garden spot started with three large shapes that created visual balance: the gazebo, leafy arch and boulder. It allowed plenty of space for plants. 

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