Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Color in the Garden

– Posted in: Garden Design

Front garden Aug 16 07

I know I’m not alone in being desperate for some color right about now, so this month’s Design Workshop seemed like a great excuse to post some eye candy. Take a spin through all those digital photos you have on your hard drive and show off some of your color-filled favorites.

Front garden Aug 15 07Are you especially fond of one particular color? Put together a gallery of flowers, foliage, and accessories to show off that color. (For some inspiration, check out Blue in the Garden Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by Frances at Faire Garden.)

Pelargonium ‘Black Velvet Scarlet with Atriplex RudbeckiaDo you specifically plan combinations or whole gardens based on color? If so, show us your favorite color-theme plantings! Harmonies, contrasts, single-color plantings: We’d love to see them.

Is your garden pretty in pink and blue for spring and glowing in golds and purples for fall, or do you buck the trend, planning for vibrant reds and yellows in spring and cooling it down as the season progresses? Bring out your favorite seasonal color pics for show-and-tell.

Side garden Sept 9 07

Canna Tropicanna with Persicaria Taurus Sept 15 07Even if you don’t plan color combinations on purpose, plants have a knack for creating some unforgettable color effects on their own. Show us some pairings you never would have thought to try on purpose.

If you’re new to the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop, here’s how it works: Write a post on any color-related topic on your own blog and leave a link here, or jot down your thoughts in a comment below. At the end of the month, I’ll gather all of the links into one summary post for easy reference. If you’re interested in checking out previous GBD Workshops, you can find them here:

Paths and Walkways
Fences and Walls
Arbors and Pergolas

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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33 comments… add one

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jodi February 1, 2008, 8:24 am

Wow. It’s just after 9 am on a sunny-but-damn-cold morning, and I’m drooling on my keyboard, dreaming of spring. Absolutely delicious colour mixes. This is gonna be fun fun fun! I’ll give you a hint on where my post will go. To quote the late, great Christopher Lloyd…”learn the rules of colour–so you can break them.” That would be me!

I can’t wait to see what you come up with, Jodi. But as far as I’m concerned, you could simply post your Meconopsis pictures every day and make us all happy.

Elly Phillips February 1, 2008, 8:25 am

Wow Nan! This is enough to bring out the sun in any gardener’s heart, even on a cold, gray, drizzly day like this. Thanks for the inspiration!

You’re probably getting the same freezing rain I am at the moment, Elly, so what better excuse to celebrate some of the previous seasons’ successes?

Frances February 1, 2008, 10:21 am

I could not figure out the topic from your clue, you are too clever. Thanks for the links. This should keep us all busy until spring, looking through those digital libraries. I knew there was a reason to take all those garden snapshots for six years!

Frances at Faire Garden

And thanks back you you for the inspiration, Frances!

kate February 1, 2008, 10:26 am

This will be fun – I need some colour in my life afer all this snow. Will post something in the next few days and link back here.

Your photographs are a bright spot in my snow-filled vision.

Wonderful, Kate. Have fun looking through your photos!

Robin February 1, 2008, 11:27 am

You’re so right, I think everyone is longing for some color right now. I’m looking forward to seeing and reading about “color in the garden”.

Me too, Robin. It should be a lively month!

Frances February 1, 2008, 2:02 pm

This is the most fun. My first post is up, there will have to be more than one, too many choices for publication!

Frances at Faire Garden

Frances, do you ever sleep? Just kidding; you know I think you’re great. Post early, and post often!

Lisa at Greenbow February 1, 2008, 2:19 pm

Perfect timing for some color inspiration. I can’t wait to see what all everyone posts.

I hope you’re planning to post too, Lisa!

Frances February 1, 2008, 7:07 pm

Nan, if I was a child in today’s world, they would be trying to sedate me with ritalin. Just a wee bit hyper here, age has helped slow me down some.;->

Keep it up, Frances! Here’s a direct link to your “basically black” post, for those who’d like to check it out.

Pam/Digging February 1, 2008, 10:32 pm

My god, I’ve just read your post and now hear that Frances has already got her design post up! I feel way behind the curve. 🙂

Looking forward to trolling for color in my archives. Great idea. Nan.

I think you have to get up pretty early to beat Frances, Pam. There’s still plenty of time, though it is a short month….

Dee/reddirtramblings February 2, 2008, 12:12 pm

Ooh, I’ll have to think about this one. Thanks for the idea.~~Dee

Great, Dee! And a reminder to everyone: Older posts on any color-related topic count as well as new ones, so if you already have some in your archives, we welcome you to leave those links here too.

Frances February 2, 2008, 9:03 pm

Okay, I’m starting to get a complex here, but the second post of four is now up!;->

Frances the zombie at Faire Garden

Awesome: more sultry beauties from Faire Garden!

meems February 2, 2008, 9:30 pm

Hi Nan, This is a great idea. I feel a little guilty though since in Florida we have color year- round. However, if I look through my photo archives, I’m sure I can find color more worthy than what is happening in February… I’ll see what I can come up with… can’t wait to see everyone else’s.

And by the way, YOUR photos are breathtaking. I especially like the first one with the lime green and the purples.

You know what they say, Meems: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” So, flaunt away! And thanks for the kind comment.

Dave February 2, 2008, 10:20 pm

I just put up some color from Spring of 2003. We didn’t have a house or garden at the time but we did take pictures!

Here’s the post, I’ll have a couple more up later in the week…Colors of Springs Past

Lovely, Dave; thanks! That shot of the ferns was particularly pretty, I thought, but they all supplied a touch of cheer on a frosty morning.

Frances February 3, 2008, 4:08 pm

Embarrassingly, part three of the color series is now up and running. Only one more to go!

Frances at Faire Garden

Loved the pineapple story, Frances, and that black orchid – wow! Keep ’em coming!

beckie February 3, 2008, 10:18 pm

Nan, beautiful pics. And all the colors! I just posted dreaming about color combo’s. Usually, I go for pinks,purples and greens, but am thinking different this year. Can’t wait to see everyone’s ideas!

Hello, Beckie, and welcome to GGW! If you post pictures, be sure to leave a link here so we can visit you.

Heirloom Gardener February 4, 2008, 12:50 am


Here’s my contribution for this month’s workshop about my efforts to have year-round color in the garden:

Thank you for the inspiration. I look forward to reading everyone’s posts.

-Heirloom Gardener

Wonderful idea, HG! Thanks for the link.

Frances February 4, 2008, 12:00 pm

Okay, last post up, the end, finis. Now I can sit back and enjoy everyone else’s color stories. This was a wonderul topic, lots of leeway on which way to proceed. What’s next? (Just kidding).

Frances at Faire Gardener

But…but…you can’t be done! Surely you have other colors too, Frances. There is still plenty of February left….

Pam/Digging February 5, 2008, 12:24 pm

I see GGW has a post about red today—one of my favorite garden colors. Read about my reds (and silvers and pinks) in my post on color in the garden.

In a word: wow. Thanks, Pam!

Diana February 5, 2008, 9:58 pm

Hi Nan — this is my first time here! I’m so excited — both about getting to go through my colorful photos and also about getting inspiration and a “free” blog! I just downloaded photos to blog with when I saw a Design post link to you, so here I go!

Welcome to GGW, Diana! Here’s a direct link to your post Color My World, for those who’d like to enjoy your photos.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter February 6, 2008, 9:56 am

I’m such a colorist – this topic has got me really looking forward to some great posts. Mine is about the unifying color in my shade garden.

Wonderful: a celebration of chartreuse!

Greg W February 6, 2008, 12:55 pm

This is a wonderful idea. I have been obsessing about color since starting my garden last year.

Do I change it every few years so it doesn’t get boring?

There are so many beautiful submissions here with lots of ideas it’s so hard to focus on one theme or another.


Welcome, Greg! I haven’t yet gotten tired of trying out different color combinations, because there are just so many cool plants out there to work with. I make some attempt to minimize the chaos by keeping different color themes in different areas of my garden: bright colors and high-contrast combinations out front, transitioning to more demure pastels on the side and then to blues and whites around back. It’s a simplistic system, but it’s worked for me.

If you’re overwhelmed by the color-related posts so far, check back at the end of February for the GBDW wrap-up post. I’ll collect links to all the posts and organize them into related topics for easier browsing.


Chookie February 7, 2008, 4:48 am

I’m afraid my post — my first for GBDW — is just a moan about how I love what you’re all doing, but can’t work out how it’s done. Advice would be welcome, though!

You raise some really good questions about figuring out how to make the most of color, Chookie. Here’s a direct link to your post.

Phillip February 7, 2008, 10:53 am

I’m late as usual but I found some photos last night and have posted them –

This was a good idea and it is fun seeing all this color in February!

You’re not late, Phillip – there’s still plenty of February left. But you could have included a warning that viewing your post may induce an acute case in spring fever in those not already stricken.

Jim February 7, 2008, 11:11 am

I’m in.

I love the photo sequence of the different color themes you’ve tried in your front yard, Jim. It’s a long time since I’ve seen Pantone chips!

Shirl February 7, 2008, 3:32 pm

Hi there, Nan 🙂

I haven’t quite decided on my post yet. However I posted on Blues back in November so I’ll give you this as a starter 😀

Oh, truly lovely, Shirl. That will definitely hold us over until you choose your new subject.

Heirloom Gardener February 7, 2008, 10:00 pm


I am really enjoying others’ posts on this topic. Here’s a second post on color inspiration from a garden near you, Chanticleer:

-Heirloom Gardener

Oh, yes – when it comes to the creative use of color and really cool plants too, Chanticleer is hard to beat!

Lisa at Greenbow February 9, 2008, 8:34 am

I am a little late to jump on this Color Full band wagon but it is only becasue I don’t feel like I have a color themed garden. Hmmm I have posted some thoughts on this at my blog.

You may not deliberately choose specific colors, Lisa, but you certainly have a knack for putting combinations together. Here’s a direct link to your post Color in My Garden.

Green Thumb February 9, 2008, 9:16 am

Dear Nan, many thanks for discovering my GBDW post…my net connection broke down just after publishing the post…so I could not leave a comment here earlier. The concept is fabulous… will sure post more pics of my garden in other colours…for now this is my post in lovely purple;
Best Wishes
Happy Gardening

Thanks ever so much for the link, Green Thumb! Now I’ll be sure to remember you for the end-of-the-month wrap-up.

Ellis Hollow February 10, 2008, 1:12 pm

Finally pulled together a color post. It’s image heavy, watch out dial-uppers.

Gloriously image-heavy, and fabulously color-full. Thanks, Craig!

Anna--Flowergardengirl February 12, 2008, 1:34 pm

Ok–now I can see why everyone said to come over here and take a look–simply stunning!!! Loved all the gardens. I can get new ideas for my new gardens!! Here is my blog if you would like to see my purple and pinks:

Welcome to GGW, Anna! You’re going to have a very exciting year, with a new house and new gardens to make too. We’ll look forward to seeing the process.

Shirl February 25, 2008, 7:55 pm

Hey, Nan 🙂

A bit late to the party perhaps but I did bring you colour 😀

Not late, Shirl, and definitely worth waiting for!

joy May 25, 2008, 7:25 am

the pictures are so beautiful

Thanks for the comment, Joy, and for visiting us.

Pam Kersting January 27, 2009, 11:38 pm

Hi! I love the idea of the Design Workshop and can’t wait to see everyone’s blogs! I’m new to blogging and new to Blotanical, so I hope you’ll like what I have to contribute. I have tackled the topic of “Color in the Garden” from an educational perspective. I hope it will fit in. Here’s the link:

That’s super, Pam – thanks! I’ll add a note in the next GBDW kick-off post to remind our other readers to check this out.

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