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Saturday, May 7, 2011

My color theory

 Over the years of gardening, when pairing plants, I noticed that I was choosing different color combinations that always seemed pleasing to my eye. UUhh..does that header say "Humble" ? lol

Having read too many garden books to admit, I don't think I have ever read about this concept so I'll try to explain it here.

In garden design, as in life, whether it be texture, size, form, shape or color, contrast makes a plant combination really seem exciting.

When choosing color combinations, lets say greens and reds, to over simplify, I prefer a dark color with a light color. Lets say I have chosen a rich dark plant with evergreen coloring. The companion I like best is a pale pink. Or say I have a deep magenta Morning Glory, like Scarlett O'Hara.
I would pair it with a plant with light green foliage like licorice plant.

So, here are some loose guidelines,( using reds and greens as an ex.) I seem to always come back to when choosing color combinations.

1. Light green with dark red or light red with dark green.
Ex. Sweet Potato vine with deep burgundy coleus or pale pink roses with dark color evergreens.

2. Cool colors together, warm colors together.
Ex. If a plant is blue-green (cool) pair it with a cool red, one with blue in the red.
If the plant is a warm green (yellow in it) pair it with a warm red (orange in it).
Still keeping to the dark/light theory.

3. If I have chosen a flower or foliage with medium coloring,
it seems it needs another medium color plant to be its partner.
Still keeping to the warm/cool theory.

Now most pots or containers will need more than 2 types of plants,
but this is how I start to choose combinations.

There are countless color combinations in the plant world, not only reds and greens!
Yellows and blues, purples and oranges...
What fun!

I know that many gardeners use a color wheel for considering color combinations. Maybe I am not that artistic, but the wheel seems overwhelming to me. To walk around a garden nursery with a color wheel in hand is more than I can...well...handle.

The tool I do love to use is paint chips. The ones that are free at the paint store. If I see a chip color I like, I pin it to my inspiration board and then when I go to a nursery or peruse garden catalogues, I have an idea of what I'm hunting for. Next time you visit a garden center, give it a try.

So, that is my color theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Happy Mothers Day!


  1. I love pink & green. Very "Lilly Pulitzer". Matches my new purse ;)

    I like the new background but I would suggest changing the font to black.

  2. You should stick to it! It is a very good color theory. I know all the rules, but if it doesn't appeal to me, what difference does it make? It is your garden after all, and you should please yourself. Love your memo board.~~Dee


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