Have you ever driven by a house and seen orange flowers,
next to bright pink flowers, up against a clashing shade of brick? Consider the color of your house and the
color of neighboring vegetation when you add trees, shrubs, or flowers to your
In my flowerbeds, I have set color schemes to make
purchasing annuals for color and perennials and shrubs easy. In the back border, I use pastel pink, blue,
and yellow for all plants, except for a few that have white flowers. In the border around the vegetable garden, I
use red, orange, purple, and yellow—“hot” colors. The bright colors complement
each other when planted together.
|Chartreuse and burgundy by the front door|
In the garden by the front door, I plant shrubs, perennials,
and annuals in shades of burgundy and chartreuse, with white flowers. The muted burgundies and purple do not clash
with my brick house, as a garish orange or pink might, and the unified color
scheme gives some of the order expected along the front of the house, while
also adding some creative features to an otherwise boring foundation planting.
If you remember the color wheel from art class, you will
know that the primary colors are yellow, blue, and red. Orange, purple, and green are between those
colors. Planting flowers that are across
from each other on the color wheel, such as yellow and blue, or orange and
purple, make each color stand out. Think
of sports teams: many of them use opposite colors for their team logos.
Orange, red, and yellow are warm colors; throw in some
purple flowers for contrast and you have a flamboyant and pleasing garden. For a more peaceful garden, plant pastel
shades. Near my patio, I have a garden
with white flowers and plants with silver and variegated green and white
foliage. At night, white is more visible
than other colors. As I gained
experience in gardening, I began to figure out how to plant flowers that bloom
in different seasons the same color. For
example, dianthus blooms pink in spring, phlox blooms pink in the fall, and asters
bloom pink in fall. Planted together,
they provide a nearly continuous swath of pink.
|Pink and yellow at Seed Saver's Exchange, Decorah, Iowa|
When you plan your garden, steal another lesson from
artists: plant in odd numbers. Artists
know that three or five objects are more pleasing to the eye than two or
four. Try it yourself with some framed
pictures or other movable objects on a blank tabletop: try to make a
pleasing arrangement with four objects,
and then try with three or five and see what your eye prefers.
Remember that if you do not like the arrangement of the
objects when you put them in the ground you can dig up the plants and move them
around without much damage to the plants, as long as you keep them
watered. I have some perennials and
shrubs in my yard that have had several homes before I found the correct one.
A garden will always be a work in progress. Plants die, or grow bigger or smaller than
the gardener wants or needs. Ironically,
the garden area at my house that’s the most visible, by the back door everyone
uses, currently looks the worst. I
planted a tea olive there when we moved in 7 years ago, knowing I would have to
prune it heavily to keep its size under control, because deer do not eat
it. The perennials died, and the bed is
partially empty. The tea olive looks
like a 5-year-old gave it a haircut.
Now that I have an electric fence to keep the deer out, I’m thinking
about pulling out the tea olive and putting in some other shrubs that are more
appropriate for the space, along with some more perennials.