Lessons from Childhood: Do You Remember the Colors of the Rainbow?
Back in elementary school, do you recall an acronym we were taught to remember the sequence of hues in a rainbow? R-O-Y-G-B-I-V.
These same colors also make up a “Color Wheel,” a circle with different colored sectors used to show the relationship between the colors. Believe it or not, Sir Isaac Newton developed the Color Wheel in 1666. Every color can be traced back to the three primary colors on the color wheel. By mixing the three primary colors together, we get the secondary colors. Combining the primary and secondary colors together, we get the tertiary colors.
For a breathtaking dose of inspiration, walk through the Spring Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory. This year’s theme is Gardens of the Rainbow, and as you’d expect, visitors will be delighted by the array of color combinations.
Color can be soothing or exciting, monochromatic, or a riot of bold hues. Color is extremely personal, as it should be. You don’t want your garden to have the same color scheme as your neighbor’s. Or the same colors every year. Like the interior of your home, different areas of your yard can have different color schemes. You don’t see all of your backyard at the same time you see your front yard.
Understanding basic principles of using color can turn your garden plans and dreams into reality. Here are some basics:
Holly's favorite color combos:
chartreuse and purple-red or deep purple
peach, orange and blues
Gwen's favorite color combos:
purple and white
salmon and purple
Special note about yellow: Yellow attracts attention because of its psychological effects on the eye. We are trained to notice yellow in our environment…a yellow light, yellow vest worn by crossing guards and construction workers. Likewise, yellow (or white) will accentuate an eyesore.
Avoid doing that.
Colors fall into two basic categories: dark and bright. Dark colors, such as blue and purple, tend to be calming and serene. So, on a bright, sunny patio or deck, try darker colors. You’ll get more “bang for your buck” because they won’t get washed out in the glaring sun. The opposite is true in the shade where there are lots of shadows. Dark colors fade, so choose bright colors like yellows and oranges as well as pastel pinks, blues, and lavenders. Bright colors will also draw attention to areas you want to highlight: a front entrance, featured flower beds, seating areas, or even garden art. Bright colors are also festive, conveying: “Let’s eat, drink, and have a party!”
Container Gardening Inspiration
Container gardening is gardening at its simplest. It provides instant gratification. Once you have what you need, it seldom takes more than an hour to fill your pots. It’s not a big investment of either time or money. Pots are portable, so can be moved into interesting groupings, or moved into better sun or shade. Experiment and have fun with color!
Use the pots created by the talented garden elves at Phipps to inspire you. Notice that in each room, the color scheme is also reflected in a pot. Go ahead and take a picture of a pot you admire. Then take it to a nursery to select colors to match. It doesn’t have to be the same plant, just the same color. With containers, focus on colors, textures, and layering. Don’t shy away from mixing perennials, annuals, bulbs, and dwarf evergreens.
Consider pots of different sizes and heights, for visual interest. Have you tried thinking of the color of your pot as part of your overall color scheme? How much sun will your pots receive? How much shade? Think about this when you select your annuals, because they will thrive in the proper growing conditions. If some annuals (like mine) peter out in July, replace them while nurseries still have a good selection. You’re not married to the combination of colors and plants. If you don’t like something, swap it out.
One option, which is fairly simple, is to create a “scene” with several different-sized pots, putting a different color in each one. You can rearrange them or add and subtract colored plants throughout the growing season. You can even custom-plan a color scheme for a graduation (school colors, anyone?), or birthday party.
Whether you experiment with color or not this year, the display at the Gardens of the Rainbow at the Spring Show at Phipps Conservatory is open through April 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily and until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays. Admission is $17.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors and students, $11.95 for children ages 2-18, and free for members and kids under 2.