Garden Colour Schemes – Use the tried and true principles

Garden Colour Scheme

Garden Colour Schemes – Using the color wheel

Using a unified color scheme in the garden can take your design to the next level. Certain colors when used together can create real impact or keep things muted and calm. This is where color theory and the color wheel comes in handy. When in doubt, use these tried-and-true principles to create a stunning garden and choose best Garden Colour Schemes.

colour wheel

MONOCHROMATIC

Using a monochromatic color scheme is the easiest way to achieve impact in a planting scheme. You may opt for a certain hue of foliage like green-blue or grassy green, or a certain color flower. Often monochromatic schemes work best in a garden intended for relaxation as the low contrast is restful to the eyes. The important thing to consider when going for a monochromatic scheme is to vary the textures to create some interest. Try pairing some grasses with larger foliage plants, like Miscanthus transmorrisonensis with Fatsia japonica.

Monochromatic

Remember, monochromatic can mean all green!

ANALOGOUS

Sticking with an analogous color scheme is a surefire way to create unified interest in the garden. Analogous refers to the use of three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. This scheme is even more effective when keeping to a warm or cool toned palette. The warm and cool borders at Cloudehill are an excellent example.

ANALOGOUS

Analogous colors of yellow, orange, and red used in the hot border at Cloudehill.

clouodhill

Pink, purple, and blue used in the cool border at Cloudehill.

COMPLEMENTARY

Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel, which might be yellow and purple, or orange and blue. Use this color scheme for a bold look that will still feel cohesive. A split complementary color scheme will have a similar effect as complementary but with more colors to play with. Consider using the two more-similar colors predominantly, and the opposite color as a focal point or accent. This type of color scheme might be useful when designing a children’s garden or a meadow style planting. For a meadow style planting, take cues from Piet Oudolf’s designs which repeat colors and textures throughout the garden to maintain unity and replicate an actual meadow.

COMPLEMENTARY

Repeating colors in a planting by Piet Oudolf.

Of course, there are no real rules to choosing a planting color palette. And sometimes rules are made to be broken! However, using these basic color principles will nearly always ensure a cohesive look to your design. So give it a go!

And remember that plants can take on different colors at different points of the year, whether they be flowering or in autumn senescence. A really successful garden design accounts for all seasons and plans accordingly.

For instance, the coral bark maple and red-twig dogwood have bright red stems in winter, adding much needed color at that time of year.

garden colour palette

Lights and darks

While color selection is important, it can be easy to overlook the importance of contrasting lights and darks. In shady borders especially, the lack of light combined with predominantly green plants can make the space feel monotonous. Adding a lighter toned plant can add a lovely pop of contrast. Plants like Variegated Mondo Grass, Plectranthus argentatus, and Carex ‘Frosted Curls’ are perfect for adding brightness. Conversely, dark-foliage plants like Loropetalum ‘China Pink’ are great for adding contrast to a leafy border. Another tip when planning a contrasting planting plan is to opt for multiples of the same plant to create more impact.

At Kilby Park Tree Farm, we have heaps of colorful plants to create a harmonious, balanced planting plan.

RED

Garden Colour Schemes

Botanical Name

Description

Cornus sericea Deciduous shrub with bright red stems, great for winter interest.
Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’ Deciduous tree with new stems changing red in colder months, leaves turn yellow in Autumn.
Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ Deciduous tree with reddish, purple foliage.
Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ Deciduous shade tree with deep red foliage in Autumn.
Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ Deciduous tree which is one of the first to change bright red in Autumn.

YELLOW/ ORANGE

 Garden Colour Schemes

Botanical Name

Description

Nandina domestica ‘Lemon Lime’ Evergreen shrub with rounded form. Bright yellow and green foliage.
Cercis canadensis ‘Aurelian’ Deciduous tree with large, heart shaped foliage in yellow and lime green tones. Pink flowers on bare branches in spring.
Acacia cognata ‘Lime Magik’ A large shrub to small tree with lime green weeping foliage.
Sedum mexicanum ‘Gold Mound’ A spreading evergreen groundcover with lime green foliage. Bright yellow flowers in spring.
Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ Deciduous tree with soft, lime green foliage. Turns golden yellow in Autumn.
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘ Sunburst’ Fast-growing deciduous tree with golden fern-like foliage.
Carex testacea Small evergreen grass with orange to bronze hues.
Nandina domestica ‘Moon Bay’ Similar in size and shape to the ‘Lemon Lime’ but with orange to reddish new foliage.

SILVER/BLUE

Garden Colour Schemes

Botanical Name

Description

Teucrium fruticans An evergreen shrub with light silver foliage and light purple flowers.
Kalanchoe pumila ‘Quicksilver’ A compact, groundcover succulent with dark silver leaves with purple fringes an pink flowers.
Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Silver Waves’ Rippling, silver succulent foliage with a white powdery coating.
Santolina chamaecyparissus Also known as Cotton Lavender. Fragrant, light silver foliage which forms into a ball. Bright yellow flowers.
Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ A low-growing groundcover with blue, spruce-like foliage.
Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ A long flowering salvia with blue-purple flowers.

PINK/PURPLE

 Garden Colour Schemes

Botanical Name

Description

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond Deciduous shrub with large lacy, white cone-shaped flowers which turn pink through summer and autumn.
Bartlettina sordida Large, dense evergreen shrub with dark green leaves. Mauve, flossy flowers in spring make a fantastic statement.
Lavandula stoechas ‘Avonview’ A classic French lavender with silver foliage and purple flowers.
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ A purple-leaved deciduous tree with vibrant red autumn color.
Loropetalum chinense rubrum ‘China Pink’ A purple-leaved staple in the garden. Evergreen deciduous shrub with flossy pink flowers. Leaves stay darker purple in shade and tend to lighten in sunnier spots.
Ajuga reptans ‘Caitlin’s Giant’ Evergreen perennial groundcover with large, bronze-purple leaves and a blueish purple flower.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest pansy’/ ‘Merlot’ Ever popular deciduous tree with deep purple foliage and autumn color. Like the Aurelian, it has pink pea-shaped flowers on bare branches in early Spring.
Malus ‘Royal Raindrops’ A lovely purple-leaved crabapple with pink flowers in Spring followed by red fruits.
Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ Like the ‘Autumn Joy’ with long lasting flowers and upright habit… but purple!
Leptospermum morrisonii ‘Burgundy’ Evergreen native shrub, perfect for hedging. Soft purple foliage with white flowers.

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