In the Garden

In the garden, colour may be the closest some of us will ever come to painting.

Gertrude Jekyll, painter and gardener, spent years perfecting a system of using colour in her garden. As a trained artist she mixed colours in much the same way an artist mixes on a platette, creating vibration, harmony, and contrasts.  Claude Monet used his colour ideas in Giverny.  Van Gogh famously said “when you paint blue, paint yellow and orange as well.” Complementary colours create contrast.

A basic colour scheme is blue and orange/yellow.  In mid-June, a China blue delphinium stunningly towers beside yellow kniphofia. Such contrast demands attention like a vibrant duet played on the flute and cello.  Blue ceanothus hums against a wall like buzzing bees drawn to a honey-coloured climbing rose.

Red Geraniums in Primrose Hill

Red poppies zing with blue anchusa or blue columbine or campanula. If you like high drama red and blue boldly impacts. Red shocks, excites and injects life, bringing the view closer, foreshortening the vista. Blue expands the garden, and lends a sense of spaciousness.

In the somewhat dark and shady climate (like Ireland) a combination of white and green are the colours of a landscaper’s palette. White flowers (think Japanese anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’) hold the dying light of long days of summer with a kind of moonlight luminosity…