BLUE GARDEN | USING THE COLOR BLUE IN AN URBAN GARDEN DESIGN

Using the color blue in your garden design and planting schemes.

I’m mad about blue.

A dear friend of mine once exclaimed to me "every garden design needs a bit of red in it!”, which I do agree with.  Yet,.. I find blue to be the more alluring color to design with.  A less common color in nature, it’s a challenge to find true blue in flower form.

Photo of Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis) at Chelsea Flower Show 2016.  "A mystique has evolved around blue flowers over centuries, with searches for the legendary blue rose appearing both in Slavic myths and Chinese folk tales." -WSJ 6.2.2010  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

Photo of Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis) at Chelsea Flower Show 2016.  "A mystique has evolved around blue flowers over centuries, with searches for the legendary blue rose appearing both in Slavic myths and Chinese folk tales." -WSJ 6.2.2010  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

"Blue is genetically a difficult color to find," says Allan Armitage, a professor at the University of Georgia, Athens, who researches new garden plants. "When it's dark, it's purple. When it's light, it's lavender. The perfect blue is the apex.” Blue is the most elusive, most coveted color in gardening.

Kandinsky Garden Influence

Bringing blues into the garden is soothing. Blue has a recessive, calming quality in the garden. According to Wassily Kandinsky, one of the Bauhaus School founders and a pioneer in abstract expressionism—  the blue color creates harmony, it is peaceful, supernatural and deep.  The lighter it is, the more calming the viewer’s impulse.

 

Classical use of blue as seasonal plantings above, with furniture in photo below. Photographed at Hidcote Manor, one of the best known gardens in Britain. Hidcote, is an arts and crafts garden designed by Lawrence Johnston, strongly influenced by Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West.  Hidcote’s outdoor "rooms" have various characters and themes. photos©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

Classical use of blue as seasonal plantings above, with furniture in photo below. Photographed at Hidcote Manor, one of the best known gardens in Britain. Hidcote, is an arts and crafts garden designed by Lawrence Johnston, strongly influenced by Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West.  Hidcote’s outdoor "rooms" have various characters and themes. photos©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

woman on blue bench

Blue walls, blue pots, blue pools, blue furniture in the garden landscape can all open up a small space by naturally triggering color associations with the expansive ocean and sky.  In a small, urban garden this is especially useful as a design tool.

A Brooklyn garden design by Todd Haiman Landscape Design. One of several gathering areas within this large urban outdoor property in Park Slope, evoking a walk though the french countryside.. hence the whimsical barn door.  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

A Brooklyn garden design by Todd Haiman Landscape Design. One of several gathering areas within this large urban outdoor property in Park Slope, evoking a walk though the french countryside.. hence the whimsical barn door.  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

Cool colors (violets, blues, and greens) appear to visually recede in the landscape.  They seem farther away than they really are, and can make small spaces feel larger.

Interestingly though blue does have some negative connotations – “feeling blue”, “blue with cold”, and in some cultures it is the color of mourning.  Those references notwithstanding, it is by far the most popular color in The United States and United Kingdom.

Blue is also the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women. At least that was the thought of F. Scott Fitzgerald...

"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."  - "The Great Gatsby"

The Marjorelle garden in Marrakesh, Morocco is a garden bathed in cerulean blue. Designed by artist Jacques Marjorelle, this garden became the home of Yves St. Laurent. After St. Laurent's and his partner's passing it became the Islamic Art Museum and Botanical Garden. photo©Nicolas Mathéus, thedesignphile.com

The Marjorelle garden in Marrakesh, Morocco is a garden bathed in cerulean blue. Designed by artist Jacques Marjorelle, this garden became the home of Yves St. Laurent. After St. Laurent's and his partner's passing it became the Islamic Art Museum and Botanical Garden. photo©Nicolas Mathéus, thedesignphile.com

Blue Steps, Naumkeag.  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016

Blue Steps, Naumkeag.  photo©ToddHaimanLandscapeDesign2016