Search For:

Share This

Trick The Eye With Color

How wonderful it is to see simply outrageous color used in public garden spaces. When you go for a walk, shopping, or out to eat, you just feel so much happier when you are surrounded by bold and playful color combinations.

I have read that if you wear a certain color, you can project a certain image of yourself. Flowers given as a gift can convey a specific message by their color. Having fresh flowers on your dining table promotes conversation while dining. It is interesting how color actually impacts our daily lives.

Color in the garden, whether it’s a public space or your home garden, is very important and can also convey a sense of personality, a theme or style, disguise or enhance certain features, or simply make us happy.

There are a few basic guidelines about using color in the garden. If your garden is small and you want it to look bigger, use lots of greens and blues. Where you want more color, stick with soft pastels. These subtle colors trick the eye into thinking that the space is larger than it actually is.

Try this to draw attention
Placing a group of plants that are predominantly blue at a distant viewpoint in your garden will make your garden look longer. If you place a small amount of a very bright color near the blue, it will draw your eye immediately to that farthest location, again tricking you into feeling that the space is much longer or deeper. I have used this technique in my own small garden and it works like a charm.

When you are trying to hide something, always choose a plant that is blue-green. Using a group of the same blue-green plants as opposed to several different plants is also more helpful in disguising something. Want to draw your attention to something? Choose what is considered a hot color like hot pink, red, orange, bright yellow, or yellow-green.

As an example, I have a fountain placed somewhat centrally in my garden and the feature of that fountain is blue. Traditionally, I always plant an annual flower around my fountain that is a hot color like orange or red, which transforms the blue into a neutral; the hot colored annuals draw your attention first and then you notice the fountain second. This works out perfectly because then the fountain seems more settled into the garden.

I am constantly observing the reactions people have to certain garden spaces. Notice if they are walking at a fast pace or slow. When someone enters your garden do they feel immediately relaxed, alert, or anxious? How could you use color to change their reaction?

The business of color
On a trip a few years ago, my husband, my two teenage children, and I spent some time in a little town with the most amazing central shopping and dining district. It was just three blocks long but the color used in the landscaping was almost mesmerizing. You wanted to walk, spend time, and shop and dine because it was so inviting. Even the small hotels put so much effort and attention into the summer annual flower displays that you thought for sure they were all wonderful places to stay.

Color can draw you in and color can make you happy. If your gardening budget is a little slimmer this year than perhaps in the past, don’t skimp on the color. Use your color more strategically and pick bright, beautiful, cheerful colors, and invite friends and family out into the garden with you. Let your garden work its magic this year—talk and laugh and simply enjoy being together at home in your garden.

by Angie McManus

During the ice storm, our peace lilies suffered. They got too cold, but did not freeze altogether. There are still a few green, healthy leaves on the plant, but the others are blackish with still some rigidity and suppleness; they are not dried up and falling off. How do we bring these plants back? Do I trim all the cold nipped leaves and let new shoots spring forward?

Not only did late January’s ice storm devastate plant material outdoors, but in some cases houseplants also suffered if you lost your electricity/heat source for a few days. Some peace lilies are more cold-hardy than others, but Spathiphyllum is hardy in zones 10 and 11, which means they do not tolerate temperatures consistently in the 40s or below. Remove all the foliage that does not look healthy. Take it back all the way to the base of the plant. It will look spindly but this will allow the plant to focus its energy on new growth. Then the waiting game begins: if the roots were not damaged it should put on new growth in a few weeks. Make sure the plant receives sufficient water. Do not allow it to completely dry out. Typically we want to cut back on our fertilizing during the winter months, but in this case you can give your plants a half-strength dose of your favorite fertilizer.


Go to, click on Home & Garden, then “Ask The Gardener” link to ask a question.

Don't Leave! Sign up for Kentucky Living updates ...

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.