Creating Illusions with Colour in the Garden
Colours can be used to create illusions in a garden. They can be used to make some gardens look larger, others smaller or wider; or to make borders look longer or shorter. The principle is that pale colours can create a sense of distance because they are not seen so intensely, while strong bright colours, which are more clearly seen, seem to be nearer to the eye and can therefore appear to bring parts of a garden closer.
If, for example, you want to make a border appear longer than it really is, then start at the far end – furthest from the house – with pale colours, such as greys, silver, very pale blues or mauves, very pale greens, and so on. Then at the end nearest the house use very strong colours, such as reds, oranges, scarlet, crimson, very dark blues and purple. If you want to make a border appear shorter, simply reverse the colours – strong ones at the far end, pale ones near the house.
This principle can also be used to make a garden appear wider than it really is. Try a border of pale colours on one side and a border of strong colours on the other.
Mirror images help create an illusion of width too. If, for instance, you plant a golden-foliage shrub, such as Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ or the conifer Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Lanei’, on one side of, plant another exactly opposite on the other side.
To prevent a closed-in feeling when planting boundaryin , go for light-coloured rather than those with deep green foliage. Use golden privet rather than green, for example, or a pale grey variety of Lawson cypress instead of the normal dark green type.
If you plant very pale-coloured trees or shrubs at the end of a garden — perhaps in a lawn – the garden will look much longer than it really is. Suitable trees would be the willow-leaved pear, Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’, or the greysuch as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Columnaris’. Stronger-coloured trees or shrubs could then be planted nearer the house, such as purple-leaved Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ or golden-leaved Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’.
You can not only use plants to create such illusions, but also pale statuary, urns and vases in white, grey or beige. They can form, say at the end of a lawn, and also create a sense of distance.
The same applies to any artificial screen put up in the garden, such as trelliswork or screen-block walling. The latter comes in pale or neutral colours anyway, but not so trellis, although it could be painted white or very pale grey.
Containers near the house, on aor terrace, can be strongly coloured – terracotta, or dark oak if it is a barrel or wooden tub – and planted with flowers in bright strong colours.