When you look at a great garden and you experience a positive feeling, you are often unaware of why you’re feeling good or how the garden seems to be stirring certain emotions from within you. The same is true with “bad” gardens: somehow you could not quite put a finger on something that makes you feel “off”. The answer, of course, is color. The major—although subtle—factor in the quality of a garden is colors, and how they are arranged to complement or contrast one another.
The truth is, colors have a real influence on how we perceive or “feel” about things. And when chosen in complement with other common garden fixtures, such as glass wind chimes, statues and fountains, color can spell the difference between sloppy and breathtaking.
The use of colors is an exciting aspect of garden design, because basically, there is an incredible array of available materials you can use to reach your goal. To effectively use colors in your garden or landscape design, you should first familiarize yourself with color theory. Although color is only one of the basic elements of garden or landscape design (the others are form, texture, line and scale), it is by all means significant. However, choosing colors should still be made in consideration of your other choices regarding the other garden design elements—you cannot just choose the colors you like without thought of their impact on the other parts of your garden. The worst thing you can do with color is apply whatever your whims command you and thereby produce an output that fails to achieve your desired emotional or aesthetic impact.
Basically, the whole spectrum of visible colors (the colors you see in a rainbow) is divided into four major categories: primary (red, yellow, blue), secondary (green, violet, orange), tertiary (blends of primary and secondary colors) and neutral (white, gray, silver). As an example of applying color theory in your garden design, you can use tertiary colors as some sort of a “bridge” or transition between different colors. For example, if you want to use a scheme of red and orange, you should find plants or flowers that are red-orange in color so that they can close the gap between your red plants and your orange plants. Similarly, if you’re using a blue and green scheme, you should use the appropriate blue-green colors to serve as a transition between these two colors. The rationale for the use of transitional colors is to keep the emotional quality of your garden as smooth and harmonious as possible without producing any jarring effect.
Setting the Mood
Moreover, understanding the effect of colors on people’s moods is the key in achieving your desired result. For starters, the right combination of colors can alter one’s mood or perception. There are “warm” colors (red, yellow and orange) and there are “cool” colors (blue, green and purple). Warm colors make large spaces seem smaller, and vice versa. They can also be used to direct attention to any area you want, such as a central garden feature. Cool colors, on the other hand, can create a sense of relaxation.
You can manipulate the emotional quality of any living space by your choice of colors. For example, in a small backyard garden, you can use cool colors like blue, green and purple to create a sense of expanded space. Moreover, these colors are also known to stimulate an inner sense of relaxation. Therefore, if you want a garden for meditative purposes, such as when you want to write, work or simply sit in quiet contemplation, you should use plants or flowers bearing the said colors (good thing plants are basically green). You can also paint the walls with these colors, or install certain fixtures or statues that complement the overall design.
Making Existing Colors more Fascinating
There are many ways by which you can further enhance the effect of your garden’s natural colors. One good example is the use of glass wind chimes, which can help disperse or enhance the colors of your garden. Regardless of what color scheme you finally adopt, such wind chimes can provide a nice sparkly accent. They are also visually awesome when hit by sunlight. Placed strategically in consideration of design principles, you can use them to reflect or manipulate light in such a way that complements your existing setup. And on top of these, they provide a pleasant musical dimension to any living space—that alone is enough to close the deal.
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