A quick primer for successful combinations
Every gardener is an artist. After all, you “paint” your garden with plants. Just as an artist moves paint from palette to canvas, the gardener’s art lies in creating a colorful arrangement of flowers and foliage that harmonize and complement one another.
A planting of burgundy-leaved canna lilies, orange zinnias, red-leaved fountain grass, and chartreuse coleus makes for a hot-colored tapestry that feels tropical and exotic. At the other extreme is a grouping of pale blue ageratum, pastel pink roses, and white sweet alyssum, which creates a cool, soothing, classical, English-garden combination.
Gardeners may compose colorful combinations in containers, window boxes, or in beds and borders. Your masterpiece can be as small as a pot filled with vibrant annuals or a “canvas” that is a sprawling suburban lot. Understanding how color combinations work can help you get the most out of your garden, big or small.
Here's to Hue
Most people see a violet afterimage in the white circle. Violet is the complementary color of yellow. Complementary colors are directly opposite one another on the color wheel, such as red and green, orange and blue, and yellow and violet.
When we stare at the yellow circle and then the white circle, our mind’s eye perceives the opposite color. These afterimages occur all the time in our visual perception, but we’re not always aware of them.
Before you focus on your preferred colors, consider the backdrop for your plants—against a fence, the house or garage, in a window box or flowerpot.
The background color can make a difference. A brick or wood wall that’s brown, reddish-brown or orange is a good backdrop for warm-colored flowers and foliage. A taupe, grey, or white background lends itself to shades of white, pink, blue, purple, and lemon-yellow.