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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in color (2)


How Landscaping Creates Serenity

Baptism Center, on the banks of the Jordan River. Photo copyright by Paul Charles Wolfe.The interesting thing about color in the Middle Eastern landscape is that it is found in very few places. To experience color, one must visit open air markets, gift shops, and art galleries. In markets, one finds colorful displays of spices and produce, as well as intricately decorated garments. Gift shops feature the handiwork of local artisans who create rather useful souvenirs in colors that reflect the vibrancy if the many local cultures that live there. In galleries representing local artists, the paintings have been executed in vivid reds, oranges and yellows - in shades so intense that they sometimes overwhelm tourists from more sedate cultures. Perhaps it is the bleaching sun that inspires the use of such vivid colors. However, as soon as one steps out of these venues, the landscape is bleak. Beige stone and sand are everywhere. That is the nature of the Middle East. Clearly one does not visit this part of the world for an aesthetic outdoor experience based on color.

Google aerial view of Kasar al Yahud, the location of the baptism centers on both sides of the sepentine Jordan River. The left side of the river is located in the West Bank; the right side is in the State of Jordan.During my visit there last August, when our tour group arrived at a baptism center on the banks of the Jordan River, we all let out a sigh of relief. We had found color. Baptism centers had been established on both sides of the river, in response to the needs of devout Christian tourists who wish to be immersed in the same waters used to baptize Jesus, over two thousand years ago. In creating this outdoor space, the attention given to atmosphere is impressive.

The azure blue of the water, combined with the pink of the flowers, are enhanced by the woodland effect of green-leafed trees on both river banks. All of these naturally occurring colors, deliberately landscaped only recently, contribute to creating a spiritual experience. The serenity of this place is palpable.


Be True to Your Colors in the Garden

The salmon pink colors of the plumes of ornamental grass Miscanthus sinensens "Huron Sunrise" not only pick up the salmon tones in the waterfall rocks but also relate well to the pink color story in the rest of the garden.Do you know what colors make you happy? No? Then it’s time to find out. Otherwise you will never be pleased with the garden that you or your garden designer will create.

Last week I met with a client to discuss designing a poolside flower garden. The client’s personal preference for pink and purple had already been satisfied in her front yard so she was receptive to other suggestions. I recommended a hot color story. That direction was influenced by two design elements in the client’s yard. At one end of the pool sat a salmon-colored stone waterfall and, in the opposite corner, sat a clean edge modern L-shaped patio sofa with umbrella, all in jet black. These two elements inspired a hot color combination for the garden. Coral and gold would work well with the salmon colored waterfall and bold red would nicely balance the jet black of the sofas.

The client understood the rationale of my suggestions and accepted the color scheme. A few days later she had second thought about it and when we met again she reverted to her favorite combinations of pink and purple. I am pleased that she changed her mind because I know she chose colors that will always make her happy. That takes priority over all other considerations. Favorite colors are too important to ever be ignored.

So how will I make it work? I anticipate that the ornamental grasses that I plant behind the waterfalls will echo the colored stone and tame it so that it doesn’t interfere with the favorite colors. And as for the patio furniture, there are flowers in hot pink and lemon yellow that will offer just the right amount of counterpoint to the jet black.

Some tips for discovering your favorite colors follow. Look at the artwork hanging in your home. Try to find one or two colors that repeat themselves in all of the pictures. Check out the clothes closet and dresser. If there is a lot of one color represented in your wardrobe, that might give you a clue. And finally, look at the color assortment in the garden. If one color is over represented in the flower beds, chances are that may well be your favorite.