Aug 22, 2007

Color Counts

This little vignette is on display right now at Gilroy Gardens, not only home to the well-trained "circus trees" but also a dandy theme park that will keep the tots (and hort-geeks like me) entertained all day.

What caught my eye here was how much attention has been paid to the details: the lamp post and building trim match (or at least coordinate with) the blooms of the Lagerstroemia (crepe myrtle). And for good measure, the "garlic bulb" rides to the left are also streaked with violet, just like a real garlic bulb.

Is there a color in your garden that inspires you? Bring a bloom to a good paint store — they can match the color, or at least get this close. Now: did you also notice the Stachys, Lavandula and Helictotrichon down at ground level? These cool silvery tones are a terrific complement to the warm violet. On a color wheel, these two colors aren't quite opposites (think of blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green) but neither are they adjacent (such as a violet-red-orange combination). Rather, the red-violet and blue-green are two legs in a triadic combination. The third leg of the triad would be yellow-orange; the closest we'll get is the exfoliating cinnamon-tan bark of the Lagerstroemia.

Perhaps because one of my favorite childhood toys was a set of translucent color paddles, I'm able to visualize color combinations pretty readily. But if you're not, pick up a color wheel and keep it on your desktop… pretty soon you, too, will see these subtle (or not so) color combinations that are all around you.

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