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Aspects of Design : Sources of Colour

Everything in the garden picture provides colour, including the sky in the background. Although we often use the words ‘flowers’ and ‘colour’ interchangeably, it is a mistake to think that flowers are the only source of garden colour.

The most important garden colour is the green of leaves. A garden with green trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, and a nice background of blue sky, can be beautiful without a single flower. The amount of sky seen, and the shape of the skyline as viewed from the garden, can be defined by the choice of trees used. There isn’t much we can do about the sky’s colour!

The colours of the hard materials of the garden contribute to the overall result. These must suit each other and the house, and they will have some influence over the choice of plants. For example, grey, brown or buff-coloured paving will suit any plant colour – green, grey, pink, blue, yellow, white, lime-green, bronze or purple.

Dark-green leaves might make grey paving look leaden while grey and silver foliage will ‘lift’ it. Lime-green and bronze look great with yellow, or buff paving. Red paving might not combine happily with certain shades of pink, orange or red. Similarly, the colour of walls can influence the choice of other materials and plants.

Additional colour sources are fruits and berries, bark and twigs, stems and buds, seed heads. These are very varied and though not major contributors, they are most important in autumn and winter when foliage and flowers are scarce.

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