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How to Organise Colour in Your Garden

Aug 18, 2007
Just like most things in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If purple blooms put a smile on your face, then you should most definitely use plants with purple blooms. The same is true for any color you find pleasing. There are different disciplines to pull from when trying to decide on color choices, but those disciplines speak in generalities; your own personal experiences mold your tastes into something unique, something your own, something a text or curriculum can't possibly pinpoint.

That being said, one of the disciplines I like to pull from often, especially when it comes to color choices, is Feng Shui. While I'm not part of the Feng Shui orthodoxy, the design and layout lessons I've taken from Feng Shui are fundamentally grounded in sound design. They can be used inside and outside the home, no matter if you have each and every room aligned to maximize its chi (energy), or you just want to make a garden space more appealing.

For example, a room (defined by either an indoor or outdoor space) with metal energy tends to be very clean and structured. Some colors that are considered to have metal energy are white, silver and gold. And in my opinion, some lighter blues, when considering plant blooms, could be grouped with those colors as well. Metal energy tends to allow for clear and concise thinking and the carrying out and completion of tasks.

On a much smaller scale, when I finish a landscape design and want to begin the next design, I need some of the cleansing effects of metal energy. I remove every template, pencil, eraser bag and architect's scale from my drafting table and I wipe down the table. Im left with a stark white table, and with that I am able to lay down a new piece of vellum and wash the previous design from my mind and begin to get involved with the next space Ill design. I find that structure and the absence of color leaves my imagination open to consider new design possibilities.

The very same can be true for a garden space. An organized, mass planting of white Tulip bulbs can provide a space in your yard to give you clarity of thought or purpose. Add some yellows and earthy tones to blend a nurturing feeling into that planting. It'll give you the same feeling as you get with an early morning cup of coffee, watching the sun rise to greet a new day; full of warmth, potential and purpose.

You've heard of the power tie or the power dress, right? Take that flame red color to the blooms in your yard and you may be filled with those same feelings of power and confidence. Are you more the strong, silent type? Blues and violets can lend a feeling of inner strength and serenity.

I believe the first decision you should make when planning your color scheme for your yard is to decide how you want to feel when you're taking in the beauty of that space. Once you have a sense for that, I recommend finding a book or two to help you make your selections. Feng Shui in 10 Simple Lessons by Janet Butler-Briggs, is a wonderful beginning to learning that approach to using color.

Color Harmony by Bride M. Whelan, shows you hundreds of different color combinations with real-life examples of their use, to help you create the perfect space, indoors or out.
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