A color scheme based on a single color is known as a monochromatic design. A garden bed or border so designed has the principle properties of boldness, simplicity, and clarity. It is a style that demands some courage on behalf of the designer – many, probably the majority of home gardeners are frightened off the idea, or believe they are missing out by not stuffing into the bed, as wide a range of color as possible.
How to Get Great Results by Using Plants of the Same Color
At its purest, all the bedding plants in the monochromatic design would be of the same species, variety, and color. This can make for a very powerful and dramatic focal point in the garden. A strong color such as a deep red is probably more suited to the purpose than pastel ones like pink, pale lemon, or sky blue. Once, I saw a small artist’s garden, where a bed was carpeted, wall to wall, with dark red Petunias. Incredible!
In such a scheme, careful thought has to be given to the plants surrounding the border. They should provide support and in no way divert attention from the flower color. A neatly trimmed, delicately leaved, green hedge would be the best solution, although it should be remembered that red and green by being complementary colors, could create too strong a contrast with each other. A way round this problem would be to choose a hedging shrub whose leaf color is a relatively pale shade of green.
It would probably be a mistake to include more than one bed of this type in the garden. To repeat the idea, even with another color, is more likely to dissipate its power rather than enhance it. While many great gardens, such as Sissinghurst in Kent, England, are arranged around different rooms, such as a white garden, a yellow garden, etc, in these cases, a particular color is dominant, while nonetheless allowing for plenty of variety.
A less daring type of monochromatic garden bed is one comprising of different shades of the same color. In a red design, a transition from dark to light can be effected by maroon, crimson, bordeux, scarlet, and pink. A small blotch of dark purple could also be admitted; the blue in the purple creating a subtle contrast with the mass of red.
Similarly, a soft, cream to beige theme could be uplifted by a dash of sky blue. I discovered this recently by combining the cream blooms of Dietes bi-color, with the pale blue flowers of Agapanthus africanus.
White, silver and grey can also play their part in the one-color garden bed, as the contrast attained is one of light intensity, and not of color. A silver leaved Artemisia for instance, can create an astonishing effect amongst a mass of scarlet sages.
By Jonathan Ya’akobi
About the Author:
My name is Jonathan Ya’akobi. I’ve been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984.
I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners. I also teach horticulture to students on training courses. I’d love to help you get the very best from your garden, so you’re welcome to visit me on http://www.dryclimategardening.com
or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.