Plant color vs. house color- breaking the rules?

franksmom_2010March 22, 2012

So, we're redoing our foundation beds. I've studied the plant choices, and have managed to get the choices down to a short list. Then I had second thoughts about the color scheme.

Some poking around on the internet brought up the idea that a "warm" colored house, needs warm colored plants. A pale lavender flower in front of the red brick is apparently a no-no. We don't have red brick, and I wasn't planning on lavender blooms, but is this a genuine consideration, just like in interior design?

We do have a "warm" house...sort of tan/rust/brownish red brick, and we'll be painting the trim from a tacky off-tan to some shade of green and a reddish front door.

Will plants with silvery foliage be garish? Does this mean no Lamb's Ears for me? Dusty Miller will be screaming "look at meeee!"

I wasn't planning on a totally contrary plant mix, and will be using about a 70/30 mix of evergreen to not, but now I'm questioning my choices.

Oh, and does white (flowers) go with everything?

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White flowers go with anything but only before Labour Day...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:51PM
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"A pale lavender flower in front of the red brick is apparently a no-no."

What a bunch of hooey. :)
One of the prettiest bouquets I ever saw was a pale lavender rose surrounded by dark red ones.

In fashion we see lavender and red mixes all the time.
I've even seen it done in some home interiors too. (though not often)

If you like it, that is all that matters. :)

I say don't worry too much about it. Try it, if it really looks bad to you, its pretty easy to change.
Gardens are always evolving anyway.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:08PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

My opinion on using color is to use nature as your example, and pay attention to balancing the proportions of color one to another. I also find it more useful to think of foliage color first, how you want colors to blend by season second, and individual flower colors last.

Personally I don't like using white flowers indiscriminately with a mix of colors; but reserve it for combinations that are tried and true such as white/blue/yellow or white/silver/purple. Somehow white/red/orange or white with dozens of other colors doesn't seem as compatible to me. I don't think it is an apples to apples comparison to compare a floral arrangement of red and lavender roses in an arrangement to a house wall and a few flowers; as the proportions of color are so vastly different which impacts how we feel about seeing them.

I sometimes break all the rules about my intuitive color sense if the color is fleeting, especially if the color combination is one you'd find in nature. The Australian plant Chorizema with its purple and orange flowers is an example that comes to mind; slightly garish in concept, but sublime in the flesh. Nature's hand at proportionally mixing the two colors against just the right shade of green foliage, with added textural foliage interest makes it appear "right", and allows for repeating these colors at the same season for an interesting assemblage of color.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:37AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I realize these photos will have NOTHING in common with your house and garden, but I'm using them to illustrate a point about color. Warm and cool CAN go together exquisitely well, but it's about pulling together the natural color affinities, as bahia describes so well above. These examples work well because they are a desert palette -- colors found in nature in the desert. The warm oranges contrast and compliment the cool blue-greens of the foliage, and you'll even see some pink and lavendar in those succulents.

If you want to get into color theory, the oranges and blue-greens are secondary colors (not primary colors); they are also complimentary, or opposite each other on the color wheel. There are other subtleties, such as saturation and value -- note the vivid contrast between the saturated house color and the saturated turquoise hose, for instance, and compare that to the softer contrasting colors of the plants in the birdbath, and the hint of color in the birdbath itself. Or look at the dark grey-green agave next to the terra cotta wall, and how that gives a different effect.

I can't tell without a photo, but from your descriptions, my sense is you have some natural color sensitivity and will do very well with your plantings and combining them with your house.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 11:40AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Correction to my blah-blah-blah on color; orange and blue-green are not complimentary; blue is the compliment of orange. Orange is a secondary color, but blue-green is tertiary, and I can't think of the word to describe that relationship right now... ??

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 11:52AM
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I love the photo with the toucan in it! I have a very dark shady corner that gets a blast of late afternoon sun and I think that color of green pot with other brighter green foliage plants might brighten it up quite a bit. We've been trying to find taller plants that will do well in our zone in that dark corner but haven't come across the right one yet. But a taller pot in that color with some plants spilling out the top might give us what we're needing there.
This gives some much needed inspiration for that trouble spot of ours.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 12:41PM
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Thanks for all of the input!

Yes, I'm relying on mostly foliage color and form to form the bulk of the whole look. Any shrub that blooms or annuals and such will just be extra.

Here's the brick color:

Current plants are:
dwarf Yaupon holly
Indian Hawthorne
Knock Out roses (Radrazz)
purple heart
Dusty Miller

Possible plants to add:
"Gulf Stream" nandina
Lindheimer's muhly grass
dwarf loropetalum
holly fern

My logic is that what plants don't offer contrast in foliage texture, do so in color. From a distance, the loropetalum and Youpon holly have similar size and form, but the color is so different that it makes it interesting. The muhly grass will be peeking out from behind the rose bush, giving contrast of both form and color. The holly fern is roughly the same color as the adjacent Hawthornes and Yaupons, but the form is different. I was thinking of using Lamb's Ears as an edging in front of some of the plants, just for the contrast. And Lamb's Ears are cool. If I still need color, I can always throw in some annuals.

Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:32PM
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You're way ahead of me in that dept! I haven't learned to think in terms of forms and textures beyond the very basic obvious stuff.

Tall, short, bushy, strappy, wide, vine, shrub, meatball,

ferny, frilly, smooth, thorny, big leaf or small leaf.

not a candidate:
anything that suckers aggressively or spreads by runners

always welcome:
anything the hummers love

Flower Color:
I'm a sucker for blue & purple,
This season I'm trying to add more red and yellow
and a little orange

When it comes to warm or cool colors, I'm just lost.
My eye doesn't really see it or my brain doesn't translate the explanations. It just goes right over my head. I can't seem to grasp what difference it really makes.

So you're way further down that road than I am. I wonder if I'll ever get that far?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 4:24PM
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Melvalena, we may be neighbors. I'm in Waxahachie, where are you?

Don't give me too much credit until it's all said and done. I had big plans for these beds when we first moved in, but didn't get much farther than weeding them, adding a little compost and fresh mulch.

Other house priorities have come up year after year, and of course last year was so bad we couldn't hardly even go outside, much less plant anything and expect it to live. So instead of doing, I've been reading. All of the good local gardening books, ag extension info, websites, gardenweb, etc. I've been lurking here on the design side off and on, reading and re-reading. Also looking at what my neighbors have planted, and what looks good when. What I haven't gained in plants (so far) I hope I've gained in good sense.

I've decided that while I do enjoy gardening, I want this to be as maintenance free as possible. I want tough, drought tolerant, well-behaved plants that don't require a lot of care and fussing. Another thing I've learned is that common plants are common for a reason. Wax begonias may be old and boring, but they sure do look great for most of the season with very little work. Those Stella daylilies may be passe, but mine bloom their heads off all season long, in a hell strip of full sun and clay.

I've seen older google images of the house, and frankly, whatever we do here will be a vast improvement on what the PO's did, so I have to remind myself of that, and not get too caught up in the details.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 6:27PM
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I'm in Denton County, Flower Mound, almost 2 counties away.

There's been lots of discussion on the Texas Forum, check out the Natives thread, and look at the photos on the Gallery Page. I'll bet you get some great ideas in those places.

At least you're thinking of all those other things when choosing plants.. I don't even consider leaf color or texture when I'm picking or placing plants! :) If it grows, and flowers I'm happy.

I love the begonias because they look so good, take up space and come back every year. Hopefully I'll have enough by end of next season.
Every fall just before the first freeze I run out and cut 'em back and root them over the winter to plant out in the spring to fill in the outside edge of my long shady bed.

Almost any plant that will multiply itself is good in my book. I'm still trying to fill beds and have plants to pass on to others.

Oh and be sure to check out the plant swaps on the exchanges page in the Texas Forum too.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 6:53PM
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I think Melvalena summed it up best with "What a bunch of hooey." While some garish color combinations can occasionally be produced with strong colored annuals, in most cases a person would have to work at it to produce a color combination that was bad. (A few people do work at it!) The only thing color-wise that occasionally rubs the the wrong way is some of the plants with yellow tones in their foliage color. Sometimes it's fine, but some cultivars can look a little sickly to me as I associate yellowing foliage with ill plant health.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 11:49PM
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Some people are sensitive to color. I think they see things I don't see. I don't know what it is.. but hairdressers I know see color very differently.

But I hear music differently than they do. :)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 12:12AM
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Orange, red and yellow...the horra.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 12:03PM
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