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Creating a well planted garden is like painting a picture.  Placing too many colours together produces a chaotic complexity. Using the same colours however, can look bland - so aim for a logical structure and balance.

The colour of your plants can also dictates where they should be placed. Red, for instance, shouts out and if placed at the far end of the garden will draw the eye in making your garden seem smaller. Similarly, cool colours like blue and white recede so placed at the end of the garden they will increase the feeling of spaciousness. In summary, place hot colours close to your main viewing point and cool colours in the distance.

Famous colourists

The works of Gertrude Jekyll, Christopher Lloyd and Nori and Sandra Pope demonstrate the art of using colour in the garden.

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude, who died in 1932, was an artist before she was a gardener. It is clear from her schemes that her art background gave her an understanding of colour and a flair for mixing colours in the borders she created.

The Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll by Richard Bisgrove is an excellent reference book, in which her best planting schemes have been painstakingly re-drawn and water coloured from her original plans.

Her own garden at Munstead Wood in Godalming, Surrey, is open to the public. For further details visit

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher's planting style consisted of everything from yew topiary to carpets of meadow flowers, exotic borders and the famous long border. Find out more about his gardens at

Nori & Sandra Pope

Two of today’s leading exponents of colour in the garden, the Pope's have written several excellent books on the theory of colour including Planting with Colour.

Next article: Planting principles

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