Colours and their effect on our mood is subjective of course, but greens and cool colours in planting are often associated with well-being and relaxation. Using reds, oranges and yellows, however, can also be uplifting by making us feel invigorated and energised.
These hotter colours evoke warmth, so a few swathes of oranges or reds closer to the house or around a seating area can create an inviting feel. Red also draws the eye, so combining some splashes of red nearer the house, with blues further down the garden, can help the planting recede and give depth to a space.
If you want a harmonious feel, try combining a range of softer warm colours close together on the colour wheel such as rusty oranges and peachy pinks, blending from one colour to another – achilleas come in a great range of warmer hues such as A. ‘Walther Funke’. Or up the excitement by putting vibrant pinks, reds and sharper oranges together to create a clash. Try Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ or C. ‘Emily McKenzie’, Cosmos sulphureus ‘Bright Lights’ with some acid green euphorbia for extra zing. For drama, go for rich, saturated colours such as rich crimson and deep burnt oranges. Golden Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ complements hotter perennials such as Persicaria ‘Firetail’ or Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty.’
You can also get a burst of vibrancy when using colours which are opposites on the colour wheel. Oranges, for instance sit opposite purples, or use highlights of orange perennials such as kniphofia, amongst a cooler palette of purples to liven it up. Sunny yellow, another joyful colour, combines fantastically with blue.
A good approach tends to be limiting your colour palette or using pops of colour amongst masses of green foliage to knit the whole scheme together. You might want your colour to stimulate the senses but you also want it to feel like a garden not a sweet shop! Combining colours is complicated and depends on the tone as well as the hue, so the best approach is to experiment and have fun!