Chivers, S. 2005. Planting for Colour. David and Charles, Newton Abbot. ISBN 0-7153-2025-4.
Softback. 22.5x25cm. 192 pages.
This book follows a similar format to others in the same Hillier Gardener's Guides
series, e.g. Herbaceous Perennials
, in that it examines a relatively restricted area of gardening in quite some detail. The subject of colour in the garden is an interesting one: people often worry unnecessarily about it - normally through ignorance of the basic principles. But equally, we often fail to realise the full dramatic potential gardens by not paying enough attention to it
The subject of colour in the garden is an interesting one: people often worry unnecessarily about it - normally through ignorance of the basic principles. But equally, we often fail to realise the full dramatic potential gardens by not paying enough attention to it. The principles of colour theory are introduced in the first section ('Introducing colour in the garden') where complimentary, contrasting and harmonising colours are discussed. This section also includes an interesting review of the history of colour in the garden where we learn of the influence of Elizabethan plant collectors and (inevitably) Gertrude Jekyll.
After the excellent introduction come four sections which look at the colour potential of various garden plants from different viewpoints: 'Colour'; 'Moods'; 'Situations'; and 'Seasons'. The first of these is almost a simple catalogue of garden-worthy plants organised by the following colours: black, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, violet, white and grey/silver. If you simply have it mind that you need a plant of a particular colour for a certain situation in your garden, then the colour section is where you would turn to for ideas
If you simply have it mind that you need a plant of a particular colour for a certain situation in your garden, then the colour section is where you would turn to for ideas. The section on mood looks at colours and colour combinations that can be used to create certain moods in the garden and is split into the following categories: calming; exciting/vibrant; dramatic; subtle; and sophisticated. If you don't have particular colours in mind but have a good idea about the type of atmosphere you wish to create, then this is a good place to start.
The section on situations shows us how we need to consider the physical situation of our gardens when we are thinking about the colours to use. Generally speaking gardens which are within an urban setting will suggest a different range of colours to those that are typical country gardens
Generally speaking gardens which are within an urban setting will suggest a different range of colours to those that are typical country gardens. Other situations considered include the seaside gardens, woodland gardens, water gardens, hard landscaping and containers. The section on seasons introduces the idea that nature has a different typical colour scheme for each season. For example we often see blue and yellow wild flowers in spring. Echoing nature's colour schemes can enhance the way our gardens harmonise with nature and the wider landscape.
A final small section entitled 'Author's Choice' provides a handy summary of eight suggested combinations of plants - each one with a theme like 'Green and White for Spring (Shade)'. Each of these eight schemes has around five or six suggested plants. Throughout the main sections certain plants worthy of particular consideration are considered separately from the rest of the text. Also throughout the text whenever a plant is mentioned which has attained the Royal Horticultural Society
's Award of Garden Merit
(AGM) it is marked with a symbol so you can quickly identify those plants which are recognised for being easy to grow and robust in the garden.
I've always considered that most people are frightened of colour - this is most clearly seen in the agonies they go through when deciding how to decorate their houses. People normally decide on a colour scheme on the basis that it will invite less criticism than any of the others they considered - and no wonder because there is an awful lot of colour fascism about! I believe that people should be brave in their houses and gardens and to hell with whatever anyone else thinks! This book succeeds for me because it informs and guides on the use of colour without being prescriptive
This book succeeds for me because it informs and guides on the use of colour without being prescriptive. Using colour in the garden is an art and the only rule in art worth knowing is 'there are no rules
'. This book doesn't give us rules but is instead a sensitive and intelligent survey of the use of colour in garden aimed at boosting the confidence of those that read it - empowering them to do exactly what they want.