Saturday, March 19, 2011

Echoes of Color

One of the challenges and also the greatest satisfactions in gardening may be in creating pleasing plant combinations which together have a greater impact than the individual plants. We’ve covered color theory in a previous post, but I have one more concept to offer. This is a concept that can be used in any type of color scheme to increase the odds of success.

The concept is simple but practically foolproof. When you are seeking a perfect partner for a plant, look for a different plant which matches or “echoes” the dominant color on the imagefirst plant. The most obvious match will be flower to flower. Make sure that the size and/or shape of the flowers are very different.  In this example, you can see that the asiatic lilies, Papaver orientale ‘Pizzacato’ and Helianthemum ‘Dazzler’ all have brilliant scarlet blooms, but the shapes and sizes of the flowers are varied, providing plenty of interest.

imagePossibly the second most obvious color echo would be flower to foliage. The foliage can belong to another blooming plant, grass, foliage plant, shrub, or tree. In this serendipitous pairing, the petals of Rosa ‘Golden Celebration’ pick up the amber autumn of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum leaves. IMG_0012

  Foliage to foliage is still a color echo. Foliage comes in an astounding array of colors and variegations. For an unusual combination, check out the mahogany winter foliage of Rhododendron ‘Thunder’  with  Geranium ‘Expresso’ and Heuchera ‘Mocha Mint.’ (Anyone else have a sudden urge to visit Starbucks?) image

Another possible echo would be flower (or foliage) to stem. This is a little more subtle; the burgundy stems of Sedum ‘Matrona’ pick up the tones of the shaggy Acer palmatum ‘Ever Red’ foliage. The tight pincushion blooms of scarlet Knautia macedonica echo the red stems of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Rainbow’.    image

Don’t forget echoes of petal to stamen; in this simple but effective combo the yellow stamens of the Aster fritarkii  ‘Wonder of Staffa’ echo the golden petals of crocosmia ‘Gerbe d’Or’.

I’m sure your mind is racing with possible pairings. Don’t hesitate to pick a bloom and wander about your garden looking for color echoes. Perennials are easy to move!

2 comments:

  1. "Perennials are easy to move!" hahaha. amen! I just moved over half of mine around to fix the color coordination. :)

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  2. My husband suggests i should never buy a plant that doesn't come with a little suitcase, because it is certain to spend its life traveling.

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