Thursday, May 31, 2007

Garden Design; Colour , Contrast and Shape

When we bought our house most of the garden was enclosed by humongous evergreen hedges and there were lawns everywhere so that green was the predominant colour. When I designed the right south-border in front of a rather high evergreen hedge, I needed something that would tone down all that green. I opted for a purple leafed smoke tree on the right and a purple leafed Japanese Maple on the left. And right in the middle of this long and narrow border (only 1.2 meters wide) I planted a Mespilus germanica with reddish-purple leaves, cut into a sphere shape. I choose purple because it's one of my favorite colours, it contrasts nicely with all that deep green of the conifer hedge and it compliments the ochre yellow gravel path.

I also planted 2 standard roses, Magenta, to add instant height and the magenta colour goes so well with the purple leaves. The colour scheme for the flowers in this border ranges from white to light pink to deep pink to purple during the summer months and autumn. In spring there's yellow and blue as well.

Here's a close up of one of the Magenta roses, as she is right now. Lovely isn't she, and her scent is to die for! I also like the shape of the flowers, so very luscious.

Two obelisks were added for some more instant height and to support 2 non-climbing clematis. The clematis have also purple leaves and stems with tiny white flowers. Along the path with ochre yellow gravel, I planted a few purple leafed Ajuga reptans and some Sedum spectabile, also with purplish leaves.
Ajuga reptans
Sedum spectabile
Purple is the recurring theme in this border and it's found in minute details such as this
the leaves of Geranium phaeum Samobor
the edges of the leaves of this Phlox
and here, very subtle indeed, the flower stems of the Saxifraga X geum pick up the purple theme again. I love this combination of Japanese Maple underplanted with Saxifrage as it works so well in every aspect. There's contrast in colour, leaf shape, size and the leaves of the Maple are mat in finish whereas the Saxifrage leaves are very glossy.

The Japanese Maple also contrasts well with the hedge that is rather a solid block of unmovable green, whereas the Maple is very light and airy and dances in the breeze.

Another purple leafed plant I have used in this border is Heuchera, here in combination with the deep pink Centranthus ruber. Note the contrast in leaves of both plants, both in colour and shape.

And how is this for an exercise in contrast? Fun, isn't it? I love playing around with colours and shapes and am not afraid to try something out. If it is not a success it is not the end of the world, is it? There's always next year! One of the perks of gardening is that you get to try again, and again and again so there's no need to be afraid but instead go boldly where no one has gone before!

Leaves are very important as they are there for a much longer period of time than most flowers. Going for contrast in leaf shape and colour makes the border also interesting when there are no flowers around. Still, my aim is to have my borders in flower for as long as possible, after all they are the jewels in the crown!

The great thing is not to be timid in your gardening, whether it's colours, shapes, juxtapositions or the contents themselves. Splash around and enjoy yourself.
Christopher Lloyd


Green thumb said...

Very thoughtfully designed indeed. You are blessed with quite a big place for your garden and, as we can see, full justice has been done to that.
I like the look of that ball of a flower! What is it known as?

Tracy said...

Such wonderful attention to details and variety--your garden is a dream! Thanks for the tour...Happy Days! :o)

shirl said...

Hi Yolanda,

Your garden is looking great at the moment - am I right in guessing you've had plenty rain now - the greens look so lush.

Very intersting to see so many familiar plants, colours and even the gravel paths.

BTW we finally had eight Blue Tit chicks in our Camera Nestbox. Sadly I expect we will loose the last two chicks today.

Andrea's Garden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea's Garden said...

Yolanda, please come and help me design the back of my garden, so it looks as harmonious as yours. I like purple colored leaves, too. :-) Greetings, Andrea

Marc said...

Now that is an amazing garden! So inviting and so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

karin a said...

I couldn't agree more leaves - I hardly care about the flowers as long as the leaves and shape of the whole plant fits in the border. Purple leaves are my favourite. Anyway, I mostly choose flowers with purple, white, pink color anyway. :)

I just love your garden and it gives me a lot of inspiration!

jodi said...

Such a joyful garden, Yolanda Elizabet! I love that you quote Christo Lloyd too. He is one of my gardening heroes ever since I read Colour for the Adventurous Gardener. In that book he said, "Learn the rules of you can break them!" A man after my own heart. He also taught me to adore Verbena bonariensis, and while tritoma continue to frustrate me, I live in hope of getting one to overwinter properly...
Splashing around and enjoying myself in Nova Scotia....

Carol said...

Thanks for the brief splash in your garden today. I have a lovely Beard-Tongue Penstemon 'Husker Red' that would fit right in with your border!

Jalos said...

Misschien nog een idee voor je border omdat je het over je Phlox hebt met de paarse randjes.
Phlox 'Blue Paradise' heeft echt een paarsig blad vooral het jonge blad en het bovenste dee; van de stengels zijn paarsig/donker van kleur.
De roos is ook een plaatje!

Anna said...

Well established evergreen hedges -what a treasure to inherit ! Your positioning of the pulmonaria at the base of the cotinus has gien me food for thought. I think that I might be getting my trowel out this evening.

Naturegirl said...

I adore purple and blues in the all begins with the lavender shade of lilacs that are star performers right now in my garden!I mix in the pinks but the purples are a feast for my I truly loved this post. Your garden is so lush and so far ahead of mine in the blossoms!!hugs NG

snappy said...

Your garden is Amazingly well thought out.I love the japanese maple and saxifrage underplanting it.I think Acer's are so relaxing in their form and when they blow in the wind.No wander many Japanese gardens have them.Its a shame Yorkshire weather batters them a lot.I had two but they were decimated by the heat, and the wind.If they could be sheltered they might do better!
The garden is changeable all year, and if you are not happy with the results try again.You love your purples and greens I think.
Lovely planting Yolanda Elizabet.

marl1 said...

Ha, dat 'paarsbladige' gecombineerd met groen vind ik ook prachtig om te zien!( en dan graag met wat zon erop..)De Acer(?) met schildersverdriet is echt een heel mooie combi! Het was weer smullen hier Yolanda :-)

Bert said...

Well Yolanda, you splashed aroound and enjoyed yourself. What a lovely border. Very interesting to hear your view on designing gardens. I learned a lot. Thanks!!

Hannele said...

Nice, colours are difficult..

RUTH said...

Fabulous garden...a great purple lover myself.

Piana Nanna said...

I really love the obelisks along the path. And, my, your paths are so neat. Where are the weeds?

Pam/Digging said...

I agree with Anna: you inherited a terrific background for your garden in that evergreen hedge. And then you made the most of it with your purple-themed garden. Very nice!

Molly said...

I am in awe of your eye for design! I have many of the same plants in my garden but they are not combined to such a wonderful effect as yours.

guild_rez said...

never mind the beautiful garden you have designed and the wonderful flowers you grow, but I admire and love your cats, they make the garden come alive.
cheers Gisela

anna maria said...

Thank you for a wonderful tour of your beautiful garden. There is so much variety, but it all fits together seamlessly.
The Magenta rose has everything doesn't it? Color, shape and fragrance. It can't possibly be better than that.

Tiny said...

Mooi hoor allemaal, lekker veel in bloei.
De laatste bloem is heel mooi.
Practige tuin heb je in het Brabantse Dinteloord, mij wel bekend als geboren Roosendaalse :-)

Het word mooi weer dit weekend dus misschien weer lekker tuineren en genieten van al dat mooi.
Groetjes Tiny

Salix Tree said...

Lovely color sceme, the greens and violets. I like saxifraga a lot. I have that growing too, and never knew its name.
Love the second picture, looks very relaxing and lush. Nice to have a background of green to set it off.
I try for color scemes, and fail miserably, as my plants seed themselves where ever they want, and I leave them where they want to grow.

Té la mà Maria said...

please visit, thank

Robin said...

What a lovely tour of the garden.Thanks for the lessons in garden design, I enjoy the reasoning behind the planting.

lisa said...

LOVE your garden! Does your geranium 'Samabor' wander around/send out offshoots? Mine does, and I love it! A plant making more plants, how thoughtful! You are quite an artist, and you've certainly made the most of your canvas!

jacquelineenleon said...

Je tuin ziet er echt geweldig uit. Vind het jammer dat je foto's soms wat blauw zijn anders zou het er nog beter uitzien. Waar schijnlijk een instelling van lichttype op je camera.

Anita said...

*sigh* Your garden is soooo beautiful! I wish ours would look the same... we still have lots of empty parts (where I sowed lots of annuals this year). Well, I guess I should not compare my just two-year-old garden with yours.... (or am I just too impatient?)

Yes, you are right, we have a Sissinghurst garden bench or a Lutyens bench. Well, it has different names (e.g. Kent since Sissinghurst is situated in Kent).

Have a wonderful week-end!


diane said...

Wow. Thanks for this inspiration. I am about to move into our first home and these ideas really help me. Thanks again!

Kate said...

I love the Heuchera and Centhranthus combination - I love purple!

Sanni said...

I just love your garden. I´ve been planting some purple plants this year too.
My garden is very big and I really admire yours. It´s so nicely desingned. And I really can´t find a single weed from your pics :)) Your colour combinations are beautiful indeed...

I would need few gardenes to work with me in summer to get rid of my nicely growing weed jungle ;)

Kylee said...

I see lots of familiar plants in your pictures! ;-)

Love the very first picture. That kind of design appeals to me. Very pretty!

LostRoses said...

I'm always in admiration of a gardener who thoughtfully plans out colors, designs and textures. And what amazing results! I've never had the discipline to do anything but put in what I love and as a result I spend a lot of time moving plants around. You should have the "Thoughtful gardener" award too!

Birgit said...

Deine Spielereien mit den unterschiedlichen Laubfarben und Kontrasten finde ich ich wirklich sehr reizvoll. Ich war bislang immer viel zu ängstlich dazu. Nun pflanze ich schon verschiedene Hostaarten nebeneinander und finde mich ganz mutig. Deine Fotos sind eine schöne Anregung für mich. Die Japanischen Gärten finde ich immer alle ganz zauberhaft anzusehen. Jedoch in unserem Garten ist dafür kein Platz mehr. Bei uns herrscht mehr die geordnete Unordnung vor. I wish you a nice "walking on sunshine" on this weekend. We have a little rain again.
LG Birgit

Libbys Blog said...

As always a beautiful description of how you planned your garden! Plenty of tips, thanks!

Julia said...

Yolanda, I used to be a designer (advertising design) and so I hope this isn't a stupid question, because there are many, many types of designers:

Which type are you? I don't want to assume that you are a landscape / garden designer just because your gardens are stunning! You may be multi-talented! Are you an interior or exterior designer? Textiles? Graphics? Love to know!

Lis said...

Kontraste bringen Spannung in den Garten und machen ihn lebendig. Nur grüne Blätter wären ja auch viel zu langweilig. Ich spiele auch gerne mit Farben und Formen und mit der Zeit wird man immer mutiger.
Wieso ist das denn "DEIN" Rhababertopf???????? Jetzt gehört er halt auch mir *gggg*

marga said...

Mooi die herhaling van paars.
Je hebt er echt oog voor.
Ik heb weer genoten van al dat moois.
Fijn weekend, groetjes Marga

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Beautiful as always, YE. I am struck sometimes by how we can have such similar plants in our gardens half a world apart... the geranium phaeum 'Samobor' is one of my favorites, especially right now. (It's absolutely covered in blooms!) I also have the sedums, the heucheras... maybe it's because we share a love of purples!

Connie said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Your garden is lovely and very well designed! I love the yellow gravel...have never seen anything like that where I live in the U.S.
Happy gardening!

SchneiderHein said...

Hallo Yolanda,
bei Dir auf dem Blog brauche ich von Mal zu Mal mehr Zeit: Erst Deine detailverliebten Posts, dann die Katzenfotos auf der Sidebar kontrollieren und dann noch diese lange Liste der Kommentare lesen!
Wenn ich panchierte Blätter mögen würde, gäbe ich Dir recht. So finde ich nur die Kontraste der rotlaubigen zu anderen Grüntönen schön - allerdings auch nicht für unseren Garten. Damit experimentiere ich lieber im Garten meiner Mutter, wo es auch andere Farben außer Grün und Weiß gibt.
Bei uns ist diese Kombination von Weiß und Grün zwar einerseits einfacher zu gestalten, da alle Farb-Varianten zusammenpassen. Aber andererseits auch anspruchsvoll, da wir den einzelnen Pflanzenansprüchen gerecht werden müssen, was bei einem Wildwuchs garnicht so einfach ist.
Ich bin jedenfalls immer wieder von Deinen Themen fasziniert und auch wie Du sie hier präsentierst!
Liebe Grüße Silke

Carol said...

You did a really great job designing your border Yolanda!It looks great now! Carol xox

Layanee said...

YE: First and foremost, beautiful garden! Then, great color combinations and great information, as always. I love your Joie de vive!

stadtgarten said...

Your garden is wonderful and it has so many different "faces".
I love the magenta rose, it already looks like smelling very intense and good.

A wildlife gardener said...

I agree with your choice of colour, Yolanda. A lot of our garden has that purple shade in the christophii allium.

In a previous post you asked for a suggestion for your garden room....what about Sunshine Corner? I do love the sunshine yellow you used to paint it.

BTW, you can read about Chris Beardshaw's garden at Chelsea, or look at photos of one of our ponds at Barleycorn on my photo web of the garden:)

rusty in miami said...

I agree with you the color purple gives great contrast to a garden. I planted some purple leaf Canas in my garden, among all the green. I can wait to see what it does to the look once they fully grown.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss!

Good grief 47 comments, you have been busy!!! :-)

Green Thumb: Thank you and that flower is an Allium (bulb).

Tracy: you're welcome! ;-)

Shirl: yes we've had plenty of rain. Sorry to read about the blue tit babies.

Andrea: my fees are very reasonable. ;-)

Marc: you're welcome, glad you enjoyed yourself.

Karin: we have the same taste in gardening.

Jodi: Christo is one of my garden heroes too. I've been to see Great Dixter 2 years ago when Christo was still alive. I saw him there briefly.

Carol: that penstemon would fit in really nicely. What a lovely plant that is. Thanks for the tip!

Jalos: bedankt voor deze tip, ik ga eens kijken of ik deze phlox ergens op de kop kan tikken.

Anna: the hedges are great and afford us lots of privacy too.

NG: so glad you enjoyed yourself!

Snappy: thanks for the compliment and what a pity that Yorkshire weather and Japanese Maple are un-mixy.

Marleen: bon appetit! ;-)

Bert: yep, lots of splashing going on at Bliss.

Hannele: are they?

Ruth: purple is my favorite colour although some people think it is pink. ;-)

Piana Nanna: the gravel is laid in a rather thick layer and that surpresses the weeds. Very few come up and they are easily pulled out.

Pam: it's always nice to get some help and that evergreen hedge surely helped. :-)

Molly: gardening is also experimenting. So go on and experiment with plants and colours until you are satisfied with the result.

Gisela: ah, a woman who knows what is most important: the cats!!! ;-)

Anna Maria: the Magenta rose was a lucky find when I visited a rose nursery 3 years ago. They were in flower then and I fell in love straight away!

Tiny: wat grappig dat je uit Roosendaal komt. Ik hoop dat je fijn getuinierd hebt dit weekend? Ik wel. ;-)

Sylvia: at Bliss the garden is a combined effort by the plants and me. I let them seed where ever they want too and the result can be breathtakingly beautiful. I always try to work with nature, not against it. :-)

Robin: glad you enjoyed yourself!

Lisa: not yet, but my borders are crammed so there isn't a lot of space to wander around in. But I hope it will because this is a lovely plant.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss!

Jacquelineenleon: bedankt voor het compliment.

Anita: it took me 3 years to create these borders. They say that patience is a virtue. ;-)

Diane: glad to be of help!

Kate: ah, another purple lover. It is such a wonderful colour, isn't it?

Sanni: your garden looks great but it is very big so there is no comparison. If I had a garden as big as yours it would not look like this either with hardly any weeds. :-D

Kylee: we have the same taste in a lot of things so this doesn't surprise me at all. ;-)

LostRoses: the thoughtful gardener award, well, it has a nice ring to it. :-D Perhaps you should put this suggestion to Colleen? ;-)

Birgit: I'm glad that you are brave enough to start experimenting with the hostas. When you find out how much fun it is and how easily mistakes are corrected, more experimenting will follow. :-)

Libby: you're welcome. Another item on your list I think. ;-)

Julia: I studied interior architecture and design. To me a garden is just a room where the ceiling is a bit higher than usual so I use the same principles outside as I would inside. Taking into account of course that I'm working with living materials and that the outdoor ceiling is more leaky than the indoor one as a rule. ;-)

Lis: yes playing around with colour and contrast in shape is fun and we do get braver with it too. ;-)
OK, OK _our_ Rhababertopf! :-D

Marga: fijn dat je ervan genoten hebt!

Kim: yes, that is what struck me too. Purple is a wonderful colour to play around with in the garden.

Connie: The gravel is nice, isn't it? It looks great whether it is dry or wet.

Silke: As long as you're having fun, it is time well spend. ;-)
I agree that in your Wildwuchs Garten it is better to stick to the green and white contrast. Isn't it great that each and every garden is different?

Carola: thanks!!

Layanee: who could do without a drop of joie de vivre?

Monika: Magenta has that very old-fashioned rose scent so very heavy and very erm rosy! ;-)

WG: alliums are great, aren't they?
BTW I saw Chris's garden on the Beeb, it's lovely. Pity he didn't win a gold but he did win a much better prize IMO. :-)

Rusty: glad you are splashing around in your garden too with the colour combinations!

Ki said...

Your garden is a wonderland of plants and flowers. Everything is so lush and beautiful.

quu said...

Everybody has already said everything nice things :) so I add different kind of a comment:

I like shady corners and I always seek those spots in pics. You use the same kind of plants together as I. Plants look so much prettier if they live in the half shade and I say, it's best place to grow plants. Contrast between leafs can be more powerful than a bright flowers. Lime green and red, red and red, red and violet, yellow and red, red and silver..... list goes on and on..

What is your favourite plant or flower?

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