Colorful entry planting with warm wood and Corten steel

Color is an incredibly powerful element in any form of design. When we plan a landscape of any style, it is one of the first things on our minds! Of course color preferences are not the same for everyone, as liking or disliking different colors varies from person to person. We often ask our clients if there are any colors they really love or really can’t stand, and of course we have our personal favorites too! When it comes to designing with color though, we look deeper- into the properties of color and illusions of depth in order to create an effect and experience unique to each landscape.


Cool blue fountain winds between green plantings and lawn

When working with color over a large area, there are many ways to go about creating a cohesive and beautiful effect.  One of these is a strict color scheme that narrows the palette down to just a few colors.  The landscape above relies on varied shades of blues and greens for a dreamlike atmosphere.  Cool colors such as purple, blue, and grey have a calming effect on the psyche, and the soft textures and light-catching properties of the water feature give this garden a tranquil charm.


Vibrant red maple leaves and purple salvia flowers

For a more energetic effect, warm colors such as red and yellow in the landscape wake up our senses and bring a feeling of warmth.  The planting above catches the sunlight, blazing a brilliant red in the autumn trees that matches the brick in the patio, while the purple catches a gorgeous glow in the foreground.  The entire effect is one of sun-drenched late autumn glory.


Dark-leaved Phormium in entry planting

Come over to the dark side!  Bringing dark-leaved plants into the landscape as focal points offers perfectly gorgeous intensity.  In mass, or in close proximity to matching hardscape elements (such as these black iron lanterns) the color creates a very striking modern look. When used as a backdrop for brighter colors in the garden, dark-leaved shrubs can also create a wonderful sense of depth.  Keep in mind that there are many different colors within the darks… dark foliage with a cool purple tone may fall back visually, while dark foliage with a red tone may come forward, especially in sunlight.


Flagstone path through all-green garden

The many shades of green we work with in the landscape also have a profound effect as color elements in the garden.  Blue-greens fall into the cool color scheme, while yellow-greens fall into the warm, allowing stunning landscapes to be comprised only of greens!  In the landscape above, the greenery lines the natural stone path for a soothing stroll.  Bright green on both sides offers a lovely contrast, while textures of the grey/blue stones are the perfect complement.


Anyone familiar with this 1980’s classic might have noticed the similarity to the title of this blog.  No one writes about color theory and plants more in-depth than Penelope Hobhouse, and we would be lying to say that this blog isn’t at least partly inspired by her work.  Please take a look at this inspiring book if you’re excited about working with color in your own garden!

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