Color is the topic for this month’s Garden Designers Roundtable discussion – and once again it’s a MASSIVE topic full of endless possibilities! How on EARTH can I narrow down such an all-encompassing topic such as this?
I’ve decided to write about the most important color in my designs – Maroon. Or burgundy. Or dark purple. Whichever term you prefer.
I’m not necessarily talking about maroon colored flowers but am focusing on the color of the foliage. Foliage is SO important in a garden since the leaves of a plant stick around long after the flowers have been dead-headed and are composting away.
Why is maroon my #1 color of choice? The reasons are many: the deep, dark shades of burgundy create a sense of ‘moodiness’ to a garden, create the illusion of shadows when there aren’t any, create the illusion of depth, visually cool down a garden’s hot tones, separates and highlights other colors, as well as leads the eye to specific destinations.
It’s a powerful color, commanding respect among it’s fellow plants. It’s got moxie. Take a look below at some examples below which illustrate my point.
1. Adding Depth
However, once you add even a single dark burgundy plant like this one, all of a sudden 3 layers of this bed are emphasized. In addition, the color really draws your attention to the gorgeous burnt orange walls of this home and the complementary colors of the surrounding plants.
Here’s a bed where I wanted the entire grouping to look as if it’s a fountain of ‘cascading flowers’. So in an effort to draw the eye upwards, I placed the deep maroon ‘Bronze Baby’ phormium in the rear so it would look like the flowers (weigela, calla lily and million bells) were cascading downwards.
This is a fairly small planting area (10 x 12) yet it looks deeper because of the ‘shadows’ and layers created by a few different burgundy colored plants. The eye starts at the lower left with the dark maroon begonia, then travels to the silver senecio greyii, then up to the dramatic burgundy hebe and phormium.
I love Maroon – it’s one of the few colors that you can use to really manipulate a design. See how the burgundy foliage of the 2 ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maples gently leads the eye down the path and around the corner?
Or, how the burgundy colors of the barberry, crepe myrtle and Japanese maples not only lead the eye along the path but also how they highlight and emphasize the varying levels of the raised beds?
Here’s a way to get people to slow down-place a gorgeous dark purple aeonium right next to the gate! The eye is automatically drawn to it, pauses, then upwards to the jasmine vine which is about to bloom (and, which also echos it’s burgundy colors)
3. Separate & Highlight
See how the deep burgundy of the ‘Zwartzkopf’ aeoniums really catch your eye? If it weren’t for this deep color, the bed would be a little ‘ho hum’ with so many shades of green and you probably wouldn’t even notice the little gate tucked back there. The burgundy colors really stop your eyes in their tracks, causing them to slow down just a bit and notice the other plants around it.
Again, the maroon color of the ajuga really allows the surrounding colors to stand apart from eachother – now it’s easier to notice the gold of the euonymous and the dark green of the liriope.
The maroon color also emphasizes the different layers of the bed, adding further depth and height.
In this planting combination the dark maroon loropetalum adds a lush, dramatic quality to the trio helping to emphasize each color, as well as visually ‘cooling down’ the surrounding grey balotta.
Again, this bed has an awful lot of green goin’ on and really benefits from having a little burgundy thrown in to help break it up!
Some of my very favorite maroon-foliaged plants
I would be absolutely lost without these plants as they’re the workhorses of my designs and some of my all-time favorites for adding interest to a garden.
Thanks for stopping by! Please set aside some time to read my fellow ‘Roundtablers’ perspectives on color, where you’re sure to get lots of inspiration for your own garden this spring!
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA »
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA »
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN »
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »
Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA »
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO »
Rochelle Greayer : Studio â€œGâ€ : Boston, MA »
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ »