In defense of Color
I'm a California girl and I have not spent much time on the East Coast so I do not have experience with the look of the gardens over there, but I think they must be very different from ours over here. I live in a rural area and the front yards tend to be full of roses and riots of color. Most have a few fruit trees, and tomatoes and other veggies are not uncommon. Perhaps it is because these are older houses that are meant to be lived in, not sold. The newer developments tend to have easy to maintain cookie-cutter landscapes that I do not like.
I love an old, overgrown garden and don't think they detract from the house. As I drive around town the houses I most admire I can often barely see because of the old vines rambling over them. Wildness and biodiversity are my favorite qualities in a garden, even my vegetable gardens. And I am perfectly happy to tolerate some barrenness in the winter so that I can enjoy a better show in the spring, summer, and fall.
I'm not saying formal, evergreen gardens are bad, I'm just saying that roses and perennials aren't bad either.