COLOUR IS THE dazzling, eye-catching element that most people notice first in a garden. It’s also the characteristic by which we select plants. But it can be all too easy, when faced with a gar-den centre full of plants, to come away with a hotchpotch of colours that don’t complement each other.
Sticking to a limited palette makes choosing plants much easier, especially when many online plant nurseries allow you to search their stock by flower or foliage colour. It also results in planting that looks much more considered and ‘designed’.
The planting palette for this design uses a monochromatic colour scheme as its base (one colour in all its varying tints, tones and shades). In this case it’s pink – from the palest blush through to salmon and magenta. The design also adds in pops of richer coral and ruby for an extra layer of drama.
With strong shades like these it’s important to break up the blocks of colour with plenty of green foliage and easy-on-the-eye grasses such as bleached blond Stipa tenuissima. These neu-trals give the eye a chance to rest.
When choosing your colour scheme, remember that typically, vibrant reds and oranges are en-ergising and stimulating, while green and pastel tones are calming. The colours you choose have a profound effect on the atmosphere of your garden. In this design the use of pink, a colour as-sociated with softness and love, along with blowsy roses and peonies, come together to create a romantic cottage garden feel.
The colour mood can be continued across the seasons with pink tulips in spring and blushing foliage tones in autumn to unify the garden, as one season slides into the next. Here I’ve in-cluded an ornamental cherry – one of the earliest to come into flower in late February – and autumn-flowering Japanese anemones, both in pretty pinks, to create a garden with long-lasting colour that’s both joyful and soothing.
Create tonal planting areas: Dark reds and pinks are gathered in the borders in front of the house; dusky pinks and corals are used along the garage wall; pale pinks are grouped along the rear fence.
Use flowering climbers: In this design, climbing roses clothe walls and fences to add to the feel-ing of exuberant planting. You could use clematis and honeysuckles depending on your colour scheme.
Add shade for dining: A pergola will provide another planting opportunity for scrambling climb-ers such as wisteria, which will create dappled shade for outdoor dining.
Pump up the perfume: Plant fragrant roses near seating areas and paths so you can reach in and sniff their intoxicating scent on passing.
Make an invisible backdrop: Keep hard landscaping, garden furniture and paint colours neutral – this will allow the flowers to be the stars of the show.
Plant light and dark notes: Think about the different tones within a colour when selecting plants for a monochromatic planting palette, from the palest shades to deepest tints.
Create an accent: Add in the occasional shot of another colour to lift the design. To create a harmonious effect these should be colours adjacent to the main colour on the colour wheel; for clashing colours choose colours on the opposite side of the wheel.