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Saturday March 06 , 2021

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Colour - Let's hear it for riotous red!

Posted by on in Garden Design

using red in a borderRed – evocative of so many emotions, often extreme but always powerful; some find red a really difficult colour to use in a garden but when it is used well it can really add a zing factor to your outdoor space.

Red, of course, is one of the primary colours (along with blue and yellow) but unlike blue – a cool colour – which recedes, red – a hot colour – tends to advance, or look closer than it really is.  That quality can be used to great effect in a garden, for instance you can trick the eye into thinking something is narrower than it is by the use of hot colours.  For instance by planting hot colours at the back of a border with cooler colours at the front, it would look like the border wasn’t as deep as it is, and the reverse is true too – plant hot colours at the front and cooler colours behind to make a border look deeper.  Red will help you accentuate an area too because it will draw the eye and grab the attention of the viewer so if you want to bring attention to a certain area, swathe it with red.  

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Focal Points - Lines and Frames

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focal point - leading lines

Focal points are brilliant tools for bringing your garden ‘into focus’ – focal points add context to a garden.  By giving a viewer something distinct to look at, it somehow manages to bring the setting around it – the wider garden – into focus too.  

Focal points work best when there is a clear line of sight to them; by clearing the way of any other distractions the viewer’s eye is inexorably drawn to the focal point at ‘the end of the line’.  The focal point can be anything – an urn, a bench, a plant, a sculpture, etc but it needs to be distinct enough from its surroundings to hold the attention of the viewer for a while once their gaze reaches it.  It’s that ‘pause’ of attention that then allows the focal point’s surroundings to then be thrown into focus too.

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Using Plants to Create Movement in your Garden

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plants-for-movementOne of the questions I get asked the most is ‘how can I make my garden more interesting’ and there are a few elements to consider for example form, texture and colour but here we are looking at movement.  What is important to remember is it really doesn’t matter whether you have a small urban garden or a big estate the same design principles can be applied albeit in different quantities.

Quite a few gardens that I visit often appear static, with plants that look as though they have been placed like ornaments, rather than contributing to the ambience and dynamism of the garden.  

Movement doesn’t have to be drastic though it can be a subtle addition to the space you are trying to create. 

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Colour - The Benefits of Blue

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echinops ritro veitch's blueDid you know that blue is a fantastic colour to use in the garden because it's so versatile? It has a recessive quality to it which some people may find ambiguous but it is that exact quality that makes it such a useful colour to use in a garden design.  Simply by receding, it can be used to blend other colours together in planting; or to create an illusion of depth be that in planting or within the landscaping materials; it also has an ability to pick up the mood of its neighbouring plants too.

Blue can add depth and space to a garden so it’s a great colour to use at the back of a border to make it seem like the vista is extending even further.  There are so many different hues and tones of colours but pale blue for example, can add lightness through intense saturated hues – think of cornflowers on a hot-summers day!  

It also works really well in shady areas as it picks up the light and this colour is well known for creating calm, restful and contemplative spaces.  So with that in mind it’s really important to use the right colour in your garden to obtain the right feel and ambience that you are trying to create.

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Design for Structure

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structure1I thought I’d take a slightly different angle than my usual garden design topic and actually look at the garden design process itself in terms of structure since above all else having your garden designed adds structure to your project.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) the word structure has many meanings and all of them are valid in relation to garden design.

Firstly, structure is ‘the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex’.  Make no mistake, your garden design is a complex undertaking requiring skills across a number of disciplines – even the ‘simplest’ looking garden design requires the designer to wear many hats ranging from land surveyer to plantsman; creative to structural engineer; sociologist to psychologist (yes, really!); soil scientist to environmentalist, visionary to pragmatist,  and more;  and sure, we can all have a go ourselves but we each have to weigh up the cost of hiring a professional garden designer against whether or not our own skills can produce results as well, or as efficiently, or as knowledgably, or as thoroughly, or as creatively, etc.  In the vast majority of cases the investment is well rewarded. 

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