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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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