Color Schemes For Gardens: Creating A Monochromatic Color Garden

Color Schemes For Gardens: Creating A Monochromatic Color Garden

By: Jackie Carroll

Monochromatic gardens make use of a single color to create a visually appealing display. A single color garden design is anything but boring if done well. Variations in shades and textures keep this garden interesting. Let’s learn more about creating a monochromatic color garden.

Tips for a Single Color Garden Design

When creating a monochromatic color garden, use many different shades of your chosen color. For example, purple gardens can include everything from pale lavender to a purple so deep that it is almost black. Yellow color schemes for gardens can range from pale, buttery-colored flowers to deep gold.

Before choosing your color, decide whether warm or cool colors will work best in your landscape. Cool colors have a calming effect and make the garden look larger by appearing as though they are seen at a distance. Cool colors include blue, violet, and white. Warm colors, such as orange, red, and yellow, create a feeling of excitement and make the garden appear smaller.

Gardening with one color gives those who visit the garden a feeling of calm serenity. Instead of jumping from one contrasting color to the next, the eye lingers on each flower, picking out each blossom’s details.

Form and texture take on a more important role in a monochromatic garden. Include light, fluffy flowers as well as stiff spikes. Simple, daisy-like blossoms are sure to bring a smile when tucked among more complicated forms. Consider the texture of your foliage as well. Small, finely cut leaves have a light, airy appeal. Large, leathery leaves add structure and a sense of solidity.

While variety spices up monochromatic gardens, large drifts of a single flower can be breathtaking. Spring bulbs are particularly well-suited to single-color drifts that command the viewer’s attention. Drifts, or mass plantings, are most effective when seen at a distance.

Color schemes for gardens should also take into account the color of the foliage. Pale foliage with hints of yellow or yellow variegation, for instance, look terrific with dark blue or purple flowers. Variegation is an excellent tool for adding variety and color but be careful. Too much variegation can look hectic and busy.

Another thing to consider when creating your garden is the bloom time. Most perennials have a limited bloom period. Plan to have centers of interest throughout the season. If you have colorless spots despite your plans, fill them in with annuals. Most annuals have a long bloom season and they are inexpensive and readily available throughout the year. They’ll begin blooming soon after you plant them; and when they are through, you can simply dig them up and replace them.

Color Schemes for Gardens

Gardening with one color is a great way to add unique interest to your landscape, especially when you practice the tips above in your single color garden design. The following is a list of popular color schemes for gardens of one color:

  • Purple: lavender, violet, and deep purple flowers
  • Red: various pink tones, maroon, burgundy, red, and red-orange
  • Yellow: pale, buttery-colored flowers to deep gold
  • Blue: blue and blue-violet to purple blooms, blue-green foliage
  • Black: deep red or purple to nearly black flowers/foliage with silver, gold, or bright colors
  • White: white flowers set off by silver foliage plants
  • Pink: pale pink (nearly white) to deep rose colors
  • Orange: pale peach to fiery orange blooms
  • Green: green, grayish-green, and blue-green to purple or yellow-green

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Straw Bale Gardening Is Easier Than You Think—Here's What to Know

Yes, you can garden even if you have no soil!

Terrible garden soil? Or even no soil? No problem. Yes, you can garden! Straw bale gardening uses a bale as the medium in which you plant. You won't have to dig in rocky or hard soil, and it creates cheap, raised beds. At the end of the season, you can compost the bales, so it’s the ultimate in sustainable gardening. It's ideal for vegetable gardens, but you also can grow ornamental flowers.

But two things to remember: Place your bales somewhere you can access water because you can’t let them dry out. You don't want to be hauling water all day long. It’s also not the most attractive sight as the straw begins to decompose and turn a semi-funky gray (so it's probably not best to place these in your front yard!).

Here’s what else you need to know about straw bale gardening.

Perennial Garden Design Ideas

Design the perfect perennial garden with basic planning tips from DIY experts.

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Perennials come back to your garden year after year, bringing reliable color and form to your landscape. Here are some basic tips for laying out a perennial garden you’ll love for years to come.

Make a plan. Before you buy a single plant, put your ideas on paper (or in garden-planning software). Measure your plot. Draw in permanent structures like fences, porches or pools. Draw in plants at their mature size. Look at how it fits together – or doesn’t. Remember, don’t improvise your perennial garden. If you do, you’ll be correcting your mistakes with a shovel for years to come.

Match your garden style with your architectural style. Wavy-edged beds and an informal mix of perennial garden plants work best with a one-level cottage, a ranch house or a bungalow. A larger home, or one with strong design elements (like a mid-century modern or Italianate style house) will need straighter lines, and a more formal perennial garden design.

Watch the scale. Make sure your perennial garden is in proportion to your house or the structure that’s nearest to it. If your house is large, put in taller plants and wider beds. If your house is smaller, plant shorter plants in smaller beds.

Choose plants with an eye to bloom times. The best perennial gardens have color for as much of the year as possible. Choose plants that bloom in spring, summer and fall. Add some evergreens for winter color.

Think about color. There are no right and wrong colors in a garden. Plant what you find pleasing. Get a color wheel, a basic artist’s tool, to figure out what you like. Some color schemes to consider for perennial gardens: monochromatic, which combines shades of a single color (like pale pink to hot pink) analogous, which combines adjacent colors on the wheel (like red, yellow and orange) and complimentary, which combines colors opposite one another on the color wheel (like purple and yellow or red and green.)

Think about the future. Your plants will start small and get larger. Much larger, sometimes. When choosing plants, keep in mind their mature size and make sure your perennial garden design gives them the room they’ll need.

Height matters. Place plants in your garden just as you would people in a group photo: put the short garden perennials in the front and the tall ones in the back. Not sure how tall that little plant will be when it grows up? Check the tags to see what its mature size will be.

Put the right plant in the right place. Know the amount of light your garden will get each day and pick garden perennials accordingly. Put the sun-worshiping plants where they’ll get six to eight hours of sun a day, and put the shade-loving ones in a spot that gets less light. You’ll save yourself the expense and frustration of replacing those scorched hostas and black-eyed Susans that never bloom.

Enclose the Cottage Garden

A twist on the typical picket fence.

Since cottage gardens can be small, the look of the surrounding fence is an important decision. Traditional fences were lower than are typical today. Picket fences are popular as are lattice fences which can support flowering vines such as clematis, wisteria, and climbing roses.

The picket fence is the traditional favorite and there are many variations on this theme that you can consider. And remember that you can use any color you want for this fence!

Plant All Pink Wildflowers:

Designing with color can be an overwhelming concept, but if you keep it simple, it doesn't have to be – and you'll enjoy a bigger statement that reflects your style.

With wildflowers, it’s easy to go for a rainbow of blooms. But if you choose two or three colors – like these pink and purple zinnies and yellow Black Eyed Susans – you get a more cohesive look. Oranges, yellows and purples are a great combination. Plant big clumps of colors to create a more dramatic look. Repeat throughout the garden.

Choosing a color theme will give your container garden a "pulled together" look. To choose a theme, consider:

  • Colors complementing the background where your container will be placed
  • Colors you have chosen for the inside of your home
  • Leaf colors of a particular plant you like
  • Colors of nature from the region you live in
  • Colors and styles that reflect a place you love to visit or would like to re-create such as the lakeshore, the tropics, or the north woods.
  • Your favorite colors

Think about the particular setting when picking out your plants and containers. The background might be other plants, patio-paving steps, fences, balcony rails, architectural siding, trim, or foundation materials. Photographing the background location of your container garden may help you when picking out coordinating containers and plants. Regardless of background, plants add a refreshing touch.

In the plant world, your palette of neutral colors broaden to include green, and brown, as well as the typically designated neutrals such as gray, black and white. These "neutrals" include both plants and architectural materials. Sometimes the background is red brick or blue siding. Take this into consideration when choosing a color scheme.

Different background colors affect how the same color looks. For example, gray, purples or greens looks different against gray siding than they do against red brick. They look different still against tan limestone or white vinyl.

Color Wheel

A color wheel helps us to think about how colors work together. Look at the color wheel to see how combinations of colors interplay. Your living floral arrangement will have a pulled together look if you choose one of the following popular combinations:

  • Monochromatic
    • All one color hue such as pure blue, purple, red or yellow.
    • Tints (hue plus white), shades (hue plus black), or tones (hue plus gray)
    • Monochromatic color schemes tend to be soothing and elegant.
  • Analogous
    • Side by side colors from the color wheel
    • Analogous colors tend to be comfortably calm.
  • Complementary Colors
    • Opposite each other on the color wheel
    • Complementary colors tend to create excitement and drama and often work best when used sparingly.
  • Explore more complex color schemes in other color theory references.

Color Wheel Families: Warm or cool exaggerate distance.

  • Warm colors include red, orange, tangerine, apricot, yellow, terra cotta. Warm colors appear closer in distance visually. They show up well even when viewed from afar since they appear to advance in space.
  • Cool colors include blue, purple, fuchsia, orchid, magenta (and shades of pink). Cool colors increase the illusion of distance. They work well near a patio or sidewalk, or a doorstep where they can be appreciated up close. They tend to blend with the foliage when viewed from a distance.
  • Neutral garden colors include green, brown, tan, cream, white, grays, black. While green would normally be considered cool and brown warm, they play such a large role in the landscape that they often take on the role of neutrals.

Many books and references go into detail about effects of colors and color combinations in the garden and are useful to explore as you think about color.

Lighting affects color perception

Lighting affects how your living floral arrangement is perceived and enjoyed. Often people who work during the day take pleasure in white edged leaves and white or pastels flowers for their evening impact. The white "pops" at night. These same pale colors may appear washed out in bright light. However, in the dim light of the morning or evening, whites and pastels really show up. Deep colors are lost in darkness. When you are out and about, notice how light patterns in sun or shade affects how warm and dark colors look.

Less is more: Monochromatic gardens bloom with class, simplicity

Colorful gardens with a monochromatic palette can spruce up a yard. (Photo: Courtesy of Fun54.com )

What is a garden? Well, it’s yoga for the eyes of course.

“With scent and color, it’s very, very soothing,” says Todd Thompson, who owns Guaranteed Plants and Florist in Middletown. “It’s sort of instant gratification when you’re weeding things or pruning things, to see that evolve. To plant something from seed, and get tomatoes off of it later, it’s amazing.”

Earth Day was on April 22, but there are still ways to celebrate and dress up your home’s exterior in the process, such as planting a luxurious new garden. Or, take it to the next level and purchase a greenhouse for some new, budding friends in the backyard.

Home gardening is increasing for the second consecutive year, according to statistics from the 2013 National Gardening Survey. Also, American households spent $29.5 billion on their lawns and gardens in 2012, which translates to an average $347 per household each year.

“At National Gardening Association, we’re delighted to see more people doing lawn and garden activities for themselves and especially pleased to see an increase in lawn and garden sales for the second year in a row after being down the previous two years,” said Mike Metallo, president of the National Gardening Association.

Gardeners, get ready. This year, designs call for mono-color and mono-plants, according to statistics from the 2014 Garden Trends Report.

That means pair jet black flowers with blanched white ones. It exudes class, simplicity and a modern edge, the report states.

Lofos, a bedding plant bred with large trumpet-shaped flowers and heart-shaped green foliage, are also popular in white this year.

“White is the perfect palette to make color pop,” says Kristine Lonergan of GreenProfit in the report. “The beauty of white is that it enhances any color.”

“For us, most of the colors have been very strong, vivid colors,” says Todd Thompson of Fair Haven. “Some softer, like ‘yellow chiffon,’ but most of the stuff are pretty strong colors. Orange has gotten really popular lately.”

Overall, gardens are exploding with color, including wild plants, new shapes and geometrics, and are not staying in “neat, clean lines.”

That coincides with the popularity of English gardens, Todd Thompson says.

“Somebody gives you a plant, and you just stick it in there (with the rest of the garden),” says Todd Thompson, referring to what a Rumson gardener once told him. “They don’t necessarily have certain designs to them. That’s why they all look like a cottagey garden.”

Bright-colored foliage is also popular in current gardens, because homeowners don’t like to see flower petals dropping throughout the yards or deck, Todd Thompson says.

“You want to have as much color, with the least amount of care for the longest time,” says Todd Thompson, 61.

People are also hopping on the vegetable and herb train in gardens, the Thompson brothers say.

“People have definitely gotten more vegetable and herb-oriented,” says Todd Thompson. “Certainly there seems to be more of an increase into organic stuff.”

Containerized vegetables and window boxes are also growing in popularity for people in condos or townhouses.

“People will take whatever it is they like, they’ll buy fully mature plants and put them in (a large pot),” says Scott Thompson, Todd Thompson’s brother, who is the director of sales for Linx Greenhouses. “The new approach is to have vegetables like that as well. They’re harder to grow, because they usually get all over the place, and you have to prop them. But, it’s right there in front of them, and they don’t have to get dirty.”

Technology is also helping out gardeners. Todd Thompson says people can get an automatic water system for less than $100. It’s helpful for people who are not home during the day to water their plants.

“You have to set it up for a time when people not going to be there, because you don’t want water all over the floor,” says Todd Thompson. “But that’s something, for people who are in the city during the week and come here on the weekends, and they’re like, ‘I want plants, but I’m not here.’ Well, this is the perfect babysitter for that.”

These translucent homes — covered in either plastic or glass — that sit outside aim to grow plants to their full capacities without the outdoor elements.

Greenhouses convert solar energy to thermal energy. With the energy being trapped inside the greenhouses, the plants, soil and circulating air grow warm and moist — called convection. This produces humidity, also known as water vapor, which is a greenhouse gas.

Greenhouses are segregated into a few different categories, according to EarthEasy.com:

Cold frames: Designed to be set directly on a garden bed for direct seed germination and for hardening off transplants. They are mainly used in early spring to get seedlings to sprout and take root.

Starter greenhouses: Small to mid-size greenhouses that are used for propagating seeds and starter plants which will be transplanted outdoors to garden beds.

Grower greenhouses: Larger greenhouses, often with adjustable shelving, for growing crops full-term indoors under shelter.

Greenhouses can also be differentiated by temperature:

Hot: Temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees for exotic and tropical plants.

Warm: Temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees for plants to grow in an outdoor flower or vegetable garden.

Cool: Temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees for germinating seeds and raising starter plants and vegetables.

Guaranteed Plants and Florist has four greenhouses filled with plants and flowers. One used for tropical plants is covered with a double-wall polycarbonate.

“You can have them as big as a closet, but then they get really hot,” says Scott Thompson of Rumson. “It’s really difficult to ventilate, so you want to have some space to ventilate.”

A greenhouse with a chimney effect — which allows air to ventilate through the ceiling — is a way to avoid overheating plants.

There are stand-alone greenhouses, as well as those that require a concrete foundation.

“Either you have concrete footing and foundation and you build on that, or you set either your steel or your aluminum or your wood into a hole, and then you pour the concrete anchor around it,” says Scott Thompson, adding residents should be educated on their town’s zoning requirements.

If going for a glass greenhouse, the Thompson brothers suggest those that are double or triple-paned, because they provide a better insulating value.

“You want to make sure you take a look at how much space you want, and how do you want it to build,” says Scott Thompson. “Do you want it to be tied into your house? Do you want it to look really nice? Do you want it to be a sun room, or do you want it to be a greenhouse?”

The Thompson brothers advise gardeners to narrow down the temperature range at which they want to keep a greenhouse.

“The biggest thing is control,” says Scott Thompson. “You have to shoulder that responsibility … of taking care of that facility. It’s like a piece of equipment. It’s a major commitment, but the people that are really into gardening and love it, that’s their space.”

What gardening can do for you

Among their services and products, Guaranteed Plants and Florist also designs the planters in downtown Red Bank. The Thompson brothers have plenty of roots in the gardening business.

“We’ve both been doing it for decades,” says Scott Thompson, adding their grandfather and father were also in the business. “We love it. It’s literally in our genes.”

Scott Thompson says planting a garden will bring more than color to a yard.

“You get to see living things, you’re going to bring in more birds, you’re going to bring in more bees,” says Scott Thompson, 58. “It’s going to be healthier for the environments. It’s going to be healthier for the people, because it’s going to make you feel good. It all goes hand in hand with wanting to feel better about who we are and what we do every day, and it helps relieve stress.”

Though it can be a bit frustrating at times, Scott Thompson says it’s worth the work.

“You literally reap what you sow,” he says.

Gina Columbus: 732-643-4010 [email protected]

Apps to assist the gardening experience

Learn about hundreds of vegetables and how to plant them keep track of dates for planted seeds free.

Helps pick the best place to plant certain items in a garden to ensure they grow successfully $2.

Calculates how much water falls on your roof during a rainstorm, which in turns help to know how much water you can accumulate and use toward a garden free.


Provides a list of proper gardening tools $3.

Designed for gardeners who enjoy plants, trees and shrubbery receive information on more than 25,000 plants $5.

Source: Global Garden Friends, Inc.

Find the ideal greenhouse

4-by-8-foot Modular Greenhouse with GrowTray, $650, EarthEasy.com

10-by-12-foot Garden Chalet Greenhouse, $1,995, Home Depot

Monticello Quick Assembly Greenhouse, $2,000, EarthEasy.com

Victorian 12.5-foot-by-20-foot Greenhouse, $13,000, Home Depot

30-by-16-foot Wallace Premium Educational Greenhouse, $22,000, Home Depot


A popular gardening-budget breakdown:

Lawns and grass: 24 percent

Vegetables or fruit plants: 27 percent

Perennial flowers: 11 percent

Trees or shrubs: 11 percent

Annual flowers: 12 percent

Source: Garden Trends Research Report, October 2013 Survey

Garden centers or local gardening stores: 39 percent

Mass merchant and do-it-yourself stores: 37 percent

Mail order catalogs: 2 percent

Source: Garden Trends Research Report, October 2013 Survey

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