ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

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.



ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

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.


ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

For a more energetic effect, reds and yellows 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 trees that matches the bricks on the property, while the purple catches a gorgeous glow in the foreground.  This view also creates the illusion of deep space with the other colors farther back and the brighter colors in the foreground, actually making the landscape look bigger than it is – a classic painting technique that works just as well in the garden!


ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

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.


ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

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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