Talking a Blue Streak

Ivy’s footprints on a blue wall.

Blue is a strong color, a powerful color, one that can provoke emotion. It can soothe, it can excite, it can expand space. I’ve been noticing blue as a trending house color lately, and I’ve become obsessed with how blues interact with plants.

The house down the street that spawned my blue obsession…

More specifically, it’s cobalt blue and teal that are most moving to me these days. I’ve seen royal blue and sky blue houses throughout my life, but I’m loving this new tendency towards darker, more rich blues that I’ve been seeing. Houses come in very few colors, when it comes down to it. There’s variations on beige, there’s whites and grays, and there’s yellows. That accounts for about 80% of houses, I’d guess. In the early 1990’s we started seeing sagey greens, and that seems to be sticking around – as persistent and as exciting as beige. This one house down the street from me was painted a fantastic blue, with green and mahogany highlights, and I love it! Soon after, I started becoming aware of the color on other houses and in gardens.

Lantana, floating against a blue wall!

A couple of years ago I took a fantastic class at CCSF called “Year Round Color in the Garden”. This is one of Charmain Giuliani’s short classes she offers (only six sessions), and it’s a great one to help you recognize how colors interact with each other. One of the great resources you come away with is a color wheel and a great plant list for seasonal color. I highly recommend any of Charmain’s classes, especially if you at all are interested in the artistic appreciation of gardening!

Look how the palm stands out against this fantastic shade of blue.

I’m finding that blue is the quintessentially perfect color to add to gardens. It comes naturally in many flowers, but I love it especially when it’s used as a highlight in the “hard” elements of a garden. A blue wall. A blue pot. A blue sculpture. In a smaller garden, painting the fences a dark teal can make the space feel more intimate, like a small clearing in the woods. The teal mimics the shadows and extends the garden outwards. On a sunny day, blue is a soothing and cooling color. On a grey day, blue adds depth to the grey, opening and extending the spaces around it.

Jasmine becomes electric against this vibrant blue.

Another nice feature of the blues is that they so nicely highlight the other colors around them. The greens will take on hints of blue in the glossy reflections on the leaves. Oranges and yellows will pop out in contrast with the blue. Purples and reds frame the blues. Silvers and greys are natural cousins to blues. So much enlivening can happen in a monochromatic garden by simply adding a splash of blue! There is not a single color that looks bad with blue.

Notice how the blue stands out even more on the half of this flax that has the blue wall behind it. Hold your hand over the blue half, then the cream half, to see the difference.

Blue has many meanings, culturally. In some regions blue is hard to produce naturally, and the color is prized, whereas in other cultures blue (indigo) is very accessible and is a peasant color. Blue is a universal color, like the oceans and skies it seems to go on forever. It’s tranquil and slows the metabolism (good color for a kitchen and for dinner plates if you’re trying to lose weight!) It’s also a color of power (think police uniforms and the blue “power suit”.) Blue ribbons. Blue blood. True blue. The Blues. Out of the blue. Blue Monday. Feeling blue. So many meanings to the color. What does it mean to you?

A splash of blue draws your eye right to my Japanese maple. Planning to paint this fence teal, then look out!

I’ve taken many shots around the area in the past couple of days, to capture instances of blue. Blue pots, walls, plants, in the varying lighting of the different times of day. I want to show how blue can play with the other colors in the garden. It can be a focal point, or it can help set off a focal point. If you look at how it interacts with your other colors you’ll see how you can integrate different shades to change the feel and mood of your garden!

A cassia blooming against a blue wall in Cole Valley. Yellow, blue, green… A perfect combo!

I snapped this monochrome housefront a few months ago. Love it! Updated for Fall in pix further down the lineup…

No plant here, but what a fabulous wrought-metal window bar design!

The blue wall behind this Mexican sage expands the background to the sky.

On the recent Portola Garden Tour I spotted this lovely blue column supporting a blue agave as a focal point.

Another fantastic way to add some blue, as seen on the Portola Garden Tour.

Look how fantastic this CA native Fremontodendron californica (flannel bush) can look in front of a blue wall!

A blue dish makes this succulent planting into a jewelbox display.

Fatsia japonica in a bottomless blue pot that I sunk into the ground in our garden. Little highlight of blue among the greens.

Another angle of the garden with the big potted Fatsia.

Cottagey flowery, backed by blue.

Blue pot against periwinkle walls…

The monochrome house, decorated for fall! 🙂 Nice color complements.

The blue pot highlights subtle blues in the succulent’s leaves perfectly.

A rich blue wall at the back of a bed of roses. Bit of a glare for a good shot, unfortunately…

Notice how the blue pot is the standout in this setting?

Another gorgeous pot-and-paintjob pairing.

YES!!! I love this as a background color. I think a slightly glossier version of this is what I want for the garden at home.

The blue extends to the sky…

The Thai restaurant on Castro and 19th has taken blue to the extreme! Love it.

I love how the agave in front gets blue highlights with the wall behind it.

Vibrant blue shows off the bright yellow-green of the conifers.

Wish I could get a better peek over this wall!

The blue of the doors and trim adds a bit of depth to this cool-feeling garden.

I like how the shingles give you varying textures and tints of blue.

A fun blue corrugated steel house on the edge of Tank Hill.

Jasmine and striking blue.

Bougainvillea elevates with a “disappearing” shade of blue behind it.

Blue behind pinks…

Blue trellis for texture amid the color.

My blue pot with the Fatsia makes a nice background for the blooms on my succulents.

What better use for blue than to frame a cat? 🙂 This is Cammy, the nursery cat at Flora Grubb Gardens, shoawing off some Bauer Ware garden orbs.

4 responses to “Talking a Blue Streak

  1. We have nominated you for the Reality Awards

  2. Pingback: Urban Hike: Bernal Heights Park | boZannical Gardens

  3. Pingback: Shoutout to Interior Voyeur | boZannical Gardens

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