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Combining Garden Color

Filed Under:
August 29, 2019

One way to create feeling and emotion in the garden is by carefully combining the colors of flowers and foliage today on Southern Gardening. 

Colors are not colors; they have well-defined properties of hue, temperature, intensity, and value. 

Hue is simply the name of the color, blue is blue and red is red. 

Colors can also have temperatures.  Warm colors are reds, oranges, and yellows; while cool colors are greens, blues, and purples. 

The intensity of a color refers to how bright or dull it appears to the viewer.

Value refers to how dark the color is, i.e., dark red color. 

Colors can also have tints and shades.  A color tint is how much white is blended in the color.  The shade of a color refers to the lements of black mixed in. 

Reds and purples always get your attention.  They are on opposite ends of the spectrum and have extreme differences in wavelengths of light.  Purple is made up of very short wavelengths while red is made up of long light wavelengths.  The colors compete for attention and seem to leap and flutter next to each other.  The red of Jupiter’s beard and purple of sage can energize any garden. 

Blues, greens, and silver are calming and cool in nature.  The combination of these colors creates a sense of serene refinement and style.  Japanese painted fern or ‘Pink Chablis’ spotted deadnettle are examples of combining rich textures with stylish colors. 

Orange and pink are analogous colors that are exciting when combined in the garden.  The colors are said to have equal weights and create excitements as they compete with each other for your attention. 

And then sometimes we don’t worry about creating the perfect color combinations and plant flowering annuals and perennials together because they just look good. 

I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

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