Garden Designers Roundtable: BOLD

by Jenny Peterson on August 27, 2013

in Garden Design,The Garden Designers' Roundtable

Good-bye, wimpy garden colors! So long, namby-pamby landscaping! Say hello to all things bold in your garden. Now, don’t get into a panic — not everything needs to be bold, but for sure you don’t want everything to fade passively into the background. Here are some ideas to try — and repeat after me: Baby Steps. Baby Steps. Baby Steps.

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1. Bold Color. Choose one, and only one. No pastels, no mixed shades. One color. Hot red, tropical orange, bright yellow, saturated blue, quirky purple. Use it in one part of your garden, say, at your entryway, and make no apologies. One strong color makes a much stronger impact than some Don’t-Mind-Me Shrinking Violet of a color.

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2. Bold Accents. Not everything in your garden needs to pop. It can, but it doesn’t have to. Look at this little garden area — the owner, my friend Shawna, added a brightly colored bench and some funky accessories on her fence, creating a “look at me” sitting area for her family and neighbors. All your plantings around it can be more subdued, so your eye goes right to the pop of color.

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3. Bold Plants. Lots of plants have bold shapes, sizes, foliage color or flower power. The are the garden show-offs, and every garden needs a few to liven things up. In my area, I love the structure of cacti and succulents — they have those front-and-center kinds of forms that play well with other, softer plants. Other great choices are all the tropicals — cannas, elephant ears, split-leaf philodendron, Bird of Paradise — strongly structured evergreens like topiary, formal hedges and columnar shapes, as well as traditional plants like roses (choose a larger variety, though), dahlias and irises.

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 4. Bold Structures. Got a garden shed, a chicken coop, a greenhouse or retaining wall? Paint one of them a strong color, like this coop door above. It would be a bit of overkill to paint the entire chicken coop a bright tangerine color (unless you’re going for some shock value or artsy statement, then go for it), so the owner (that would be me) chose to focus on a high-contrast and bold color palette for the antique door. Not sure about painting the shed? How about simply changing out the door color, or adding some bold trim color? Remember what I said — Baby Steps.

Check out some other bold garden ideas from my colleagues on the Roundtable, below. And please leave your comments to share how you create boldness in your garden — we’d love to hear about it!

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Webber August 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Loved your pics. Wot it would be to live where such colour doesn’t just often seem rather odd as in our dull uk weather! Great point about the baby steps 2!
Best
R

Desert Dweller / David C. August 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

No pastels? Hmmm, not that I do use too many pastels, this gets me to really go for it and search if I do unintentionally, since I’m a form kind of guy. I do get #3, but I need to work on #2 more.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker August 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I love funky art that is the result of recycled materials. You choice of colors have a little more pop than I would chose, but then that is why gardening is not a team sport. I do like your design and the direction you are going…great ideas and tips.

Debbie/GardenofPossibilities September 2, 2013 at 9:48 am

Jenny, A great point about choosing one bold colored plant and using it in mass. I think too often people are either afraid to make that bold statement or can’t commit to just one color and then their mix & match colors end of making the wrong statement.

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