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Garden Centre


Stephen Anderton explains why what colours you have in your garden reveal a lot about you...

Over the last few years, extensive scientific research has been carried out into the psychology of colour. Dark blue commands respect and is therefore used for Police and other uniforms. Green is relaxing and is used on the walls of hospitals and even the emulsion we paint on our living room walls can effect our moods. But it doesn't end there because we should also use colour carefully in the garden. Of course we can slap paint onto walls and fences but the colours of leaves, flowers and berries also conspire to not only change our mood but to broadcast our personalities to visitors. So next time you're in someone else's garden, take a look around. There may be more to it than initially meets the eye.

If a garden has consciously been planted with lots of red flowers this can imply assertiveness and, being a fairly masculine colour with the maximum visual impact, it may be used to play down femininity by either sex. Red is often used to display physical strength hence its use in football team colours such as Liverpool and Manchester United so in a garden it could be used in a more active area, perhaps around the lawn or swimming pool. The various tints, tones and shades can be stimulating and exciting and some say that in extremes reds will actually raise the blood pressure. Crocosmia 'Lucifer', Papaver orientale 'Beauty of Livermere' and Potentilla 'Red ace' are all strong masculine reds.

Yellow focuses on the emotions; ego, optimism and self-esteem. It is also the colour we associate with spring, with daffodils, primroses, Fritillaria imperialis and skunk cabbage. It is bright and cheerful, the colour of sunshine and lifts the spirits. But if you overuse it, it implies that self esteem is not at its highest so be careful.

Blue is the colour of intellect and of course is the colour for boys. Blue is deemed to lower blood pressure, it is soothing and calming and encourages reflection. Nature uses it in huge amounts in the sky and the sea and its use in the garden can have the same effects. Great swathes of forget-me-not, Anchusa and cornflowers can hardly fail to relax. It is the favourite colour of more adults than any other, do a straw poll round the office and I'll bet blue comes out top. Perhaps it's because we recognise the need for calm logical thought in our hectic lives.

Green is the number one choice for a relaxing garden. It is created by chlorophyll which is vital to life, in nature it indicates water in abundance so when we are surrounded by plenty of green we feel reassured. Green is at the centre of the spectrum and represents perfect balance, the eye doesn't need to adjust in order to see it and so requires no effort. Our lawns are often our greatest patch of green in the garden so think twice about ripping it up and laying decking. Hostas, ferns and rhododendrons all provide an excellent relaxing backdrop to other colours.

Violet is the colour of someone who prefers to be left to peaceful contemplation, perhaps someone who gardens just for themselves and isn't worried about shouting out their achievements to others. Wisteria, Syringa vulgaris and various delphiniums are all suitable.

Pink is an expression of femininity for those men in touch with their feminine sides. A hint of reddish pink like Cistus x purpureus and Filipendula palmata is physically soothing and represents the feminine parenting instinct. It's obvious associations with the flesh also make it a sexy colour.

Orange is sexy too because of its associations with physical enjoyment and fiery passion. It can create a feeling of physical comfort and can look very sensual. Try Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow', Lilium 'Enchantment' and Escholtzia californica.


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Other Stephen Anderton Articles
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   Going Ornamental        Green, Green Grass
   Inspired By Art        Modern Garden Designs
   Out With The Old        Psychology of Colour
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