The effect of colour in the garden

As you might expect, your personal taste will be a major factor in choosing the colours for your garden. In any case, perennials provide plenty of options for creating an inviting garden by ‘colouring it in’ as you wish. Since colour is what our senses perceive first, it quickly determines how we feel about a space. The colours of flowers and foliage even have a direct effect on our emotional state. Discover the effect of colour in the garden.

The effect of colour in the garden The effect of colour in the garden The effect of colour in the garden

A design element of colour in the garden

Colour is a fascinating design element in the garden. Every colour has its own character: white is pure and neutral; yellow is sunny and eye-catching, orange and red are warm and very prominent, pink is sweet and feminine, purple and violet suggest serenity and are fairly cool, blue is fresh and calming, and green is a low-key basic colour.

Warm and cool colours

Flowers in warm colours produce an entirely different effect than flowers in cool colours. Yellow, orange and red are warm and expressive; they catch the eye and appear to come closer. They definitely cheer you up. The cool colours – purple, violet and blue – are less conspicuous, more subtle and suggest depth. They produce a soothing effect. Combining cool with warm colours is also effective: a bed of blue Crane’s Bill (Geranium) with a bit of bright orange Avens (Geum). Or tone down the red of Astilbe with the basic blue-green of Hosta foliage.


Creating lovely combinations of flower and foliage colour in a border makes your garden personal. In general, there are two kinds of colour schemes: harmonious and contrasting. Harmonious combinations produce a sense of calm; to create a harmonious colour scheme, choose colours that are close to one another on the colour wheel: purple next to pink or yellow next to orange. If you want to introduce more accents, using contrasting colours is the solution. To do this, combine colours that are farther away from each other on the colour wheel; this creates exciting contrasts that catch the attention. The combination of red and violet, for example is highly conspicuous. Another splendid combination in the garden is yellow and violet. Fortunately for us, it’s not really possible to create a ‘wrong’ colour combination with flowers: you simply can’t go wrong!

Foliage colour as the basis

When creating colour combinations, the flowers are very important, but don’t forget to select lovely foliage plants as well. Perennial plants have leaves in green, yellow-green (Hosta ‘Piermont Gold’), blue-green (Festuca glauca), grey-green (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and even caramel colours (Heuchera ‘Caramel’) and very deep purples (Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’). And then there are spotted, striped, silvery fuzzy or speckled leaves. Leaves are attractive from early spring until winter and provide the foundation for a planting.

Planting and care

The winter period is a perfect time to make colourful plans for the garden. Consider which colour combinations you like best and then look for suitable perennials in those colours. When springtime comes, you can plant these varieties and then you will be sure to enjoy them as soon as the summer starts.

Did you know that…

  • Perennials don’t necessarily have to be planted in a garden? They will also thrive and look beautiful in pots.
  • Colourful and often highly scented flowers not only please us but act as loudspeakers advertising their nectar. The colour of flowers attracts the right insects to their stamens and pistils, so that fertilisation can occur and seed will be produced.
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