Friday, April 27, 2007

Gardeners are artists of living color

Last Saturday as my husband was driving us up to Oxford for the weekend, I got in some good reading in an old favorite of mine, Flower Garden Designs by Penelope Hobhouse. Penelope Hobhouse is an Associate Editor for Gardens Illustrated magazine and a talented garden desginer with great vision. This book contains two classics by Ms. Hobhouse in one volume: Penelope Hobhouse on Gardening and Flower Gardens.

As I was reading along I highlighted a few thoughts from the book, and I thought I'd share them with you:

Colour effects in planting

Gardeners should study colour behaviour in the countryside as well as in the garden, and above all learn how painters and other colour craftsmen have built up colour associations in their work.


The principles of colour manipulation remain much the same although the painter works with exact colour mixes, while the gardener labours in a constantly changing world. Both use colors not only in pleasing associations but also to play tricks to convey architectural and linear effects.

This quote rings true to me. The color palette of the flowers and foliage in my garden is chosen with special attention to the emotions those colors will evoke. Sometimes in a peaceful arrangement of similar pale yellows and white to complement one another. Then sometimes contrasting hot pinks, bold purples, and firey oranges to bring excitement to the garden. I use the height and spread of the plantings and the delicacy or sturdiness of the foliage – in addition to the color palette – to convey an overall feeling in each garden space.

As gardeners, we are artists of living, growing, changing color. Isn't it a beautiful thing?


Sylvana said...

I have always likened gardening to painting with plants.

Lisa Blair said...

sylvana, it is so true! Most recently I "painted" in some cannas with gorgeous varigated foliage. The contrast is perfect.