Forms of Garden Colour
Colour does not only come from green, bright flower beds, shrubs and trees. Various artificial features also provide colour. These include brick paths and walls, wooden fencing and trellis of all kinds, gravel paths, any garden ornaments, the rocks in a if there is one and, of course, many kinds of garden furniture.
Bricks come in many colours, including all shades of red, yellow and even black. When using brickwork in the garden, for walls and perhaps paths, why not try to match them with those of your house? Don’t dismiss the possibility of obtaining old weathered bricks, which can look most attractive in a cottage-style garden, for instance. But don’t use them for paths – buy hard paving bricks. Remember that brick walls can be painted – perhaps a useful way of brightening up a basement garden, or a small enclosed backyard. Use masonry paint, in white, cream or pale grey. A large mirror skilfully mounted on a wall in a basement or very tiny garden, can give the illusion of extra space.
TRELLIS AND FENCING
Free-standing trellis work screens make attractive garden features, and can be regularly treated with a coloured horticultural wood preservative – say red cedar or dark oak – or painted white or pale grey. Timber fencing, such as lapped panels or close-boarded, probably looks best treated with a coloured wood preservative, though modern ranch-type fencing and traditional picket fences look good when painted a crisp white.
There is no doubt that natural-stone paving, such as York stone with its mellow buff tones, looks good in any garden. However, many of the artificial concrete paving slabs in natural-stone colours look almost as good. You can buy coloured slabs, but I suggest you avoid really strong colours as some do not blend in too well in gardens. Go for buff, beige, fawn, or perhaps pale grey shades.
GRAVEL AND PEBBLES
Gravelled areas provide another texture in a garden and though it is possible to buy coloured gravels, the natural ones look more pleasing. Pinkish gravel, though, has it uses, particularly in modern settings, and grey gravel can form an excellent background for colourful plants. Pebbles are also used to cover areas of ground and again come in fairly neutral colours as well as pink and grey. Cobbles used as a hard surface contrast well with paving, both in texture and colour. Some are dark while others are lighter coloured.
This is used mainly for building, though also for constructing dry-stone walls. It is best to use local rock as it is more in keeping with the area. In your area it could be sandstone, often a beautiful honey colour, or white limestone, or even a more subtle ‘blue’ or grey slate.
Urns, pots and tubs come in various colours. Terracotta clay is a lovely warm orangey colour, while simulated-stone containers are pale buff or fawn shades, or perhaps white. Wooden tubs can be treated with coloured horticultural wood preservative (perhaps dark oak), or painted white, grey or brown. Window-boxes could be painted to match or complement the colour of the window frames.
Statues can add style to a garden and are generally used as focal points, to lead the eye to a particular part of the garden. All kinds of figures are obtainable, from human forms to animals and birds. Some are in simulated stone, and can be white or buff; others, more expensive, are made of bronze (or bronze coloured) or of lead.
A tremendous range of furniture is available suitable for garden use, from timber tables and chairs, perhaps in teak, oak or red cedar, which are best treated regularly with oil or wood preservative, to tables and chairs in white plastic-coated aluminium or steel, in both traditional and modern designs (the former resembling wrought-iron). White furniture looks particularly attractive on a patio, perhaps accompanied by colourful sunshades and cushions.
These buildings should, I feel sure, blend in with the garden. Summerhouses, for instance, are built of timber and should be treated with appropriate coloured wood preservative. Greenhouses and conservatories have become more ‘colourful’ in recent years. For instance, some of the aluminium-framed models have an acrylic or anodised finish. The bronze finish blends in beautifully with gardens. White conservatories are exceedingly smart and go with modern or older-style houses. Greenhouses in western red cedar harmonize with the garden. I think I would avoid raw aluminium greenhouses in the ornamental part of the garden as they do not blend in so well – too strong a contrast.
This idea has come from America and is used in place of paving slabs, concrete, etc., to construct areas for sitting and entertaining. And very good it looks, too: generally stained a dark brown, it is a natural choice for gardens.