- Basic Design Principles – Using Color in the Garden
- 1. Crocus Chrysanthus-“Snow Bunting”
- 2. Easter Lily
- 3. White Lilac
- 4. Climbing Iceberg Rose
- 5. Hosta
- 6. Shasta Daisy
- 7. Delphinium Centurion white
- 8. Peony
- 9. Hydrangea Arborescens Incredible
- 10. Clematis Paniculata
- 11. Salvia Summer Jewel white
- 12. Canna lily Moonshine
- 13. Hellebore, Christmas Rose
- 14. Yucca Filamentosa
- 15. Astilbe, White Gloria
- SIX STEPS TO DESIGNING A WHITE GARDEN
- 1. CHOOSE A DARK BACKDROP
- 2. VARY THE FOLIAGE
- 3. CHANGE UP SHAPES AND SIZES
- 4. REPEAT FORMS
- 5. ADD SOME BLING TO YOUR WHITE GARDEN
- 6. DEADHEAD OFTEN AND FILL IN WITH ANNUALS
- GREAT PLANTS FOR WHITE GARDENS
- Hello world!
- A Green and White Garden
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Our nursery in Morris, CT isn’t your average garden center. Our store is surrounded by trial and display gardens set across several acres in the picturesque hills of Northwest CT. We welcome visitors from around the world between April and November. Our gardens serve to entice, teach and inspire gardeners of all ability levels. Our experienced staff looks forward to helping each and every visitor imagine the possibilities of a great home garden.
The store carries a multitude of plants not listed in our catalog, including conifers, flowering trees, native shrubs, a wide variety of roses and more perennials than can be listed. We also try to stock the majority of catalog listings to the best of our ability. As we are dealing with live plants, all items are not in stock at the same time. If you are looking for something specific, please call the store directly at 860-567-8789 to verify a plant is in stock prior to making a drive.
For garden solutions to fit your busy lifestyle, partner with White Flower Farm for the best in plants, landscape design and inspiration. We also offer a series of talks and garden events every year — see below for details.
Basic Design Principles – Using Color in the Garden
When you get right down to it gardens are really about color. That color can come from flowers, foliage, bark, pottery, furniture, fences and even artwork, but in the end it is all about color. Our gardens are meant to enhance our lives and to make our homes look better from the curb. Color can be soothing or exciting, it can be a riot or a river, it can be front and center or something much more subtle, but whatever our choices, color is the goal. Any color scheme can work, it’s your garden so if you’re happy who cares what anyone else thinks. However, understanding the basic principles of using color in design can help make that picture in your head a reality. Be it a soothing sanctuary or a patio ready for a party.
The first thing to learn is which colors are considered neutral in gardening. Neutral colors are those colors that can be used with any other color without changing the effect that you are trying to achieve. White, black, grey, silver and shades of brown are considered neutral in any arena. In gardening, green also functions as a neutral. Neutral colors will have a tendency to tone down the other colors in a bed and can be used as a buffer between two plants that might otherwise clash.
While white funtions as a neutral in the garden, it also serves another purpose. White glows when you view the garden early in the morning, during the evening and at night. With busy lives, many of us view our gardens less during the day and more often during twilight hours. If you will be using your garden often after dark be sure to include a healthy dose of white flowers and silver foliage. These plants will show well in the evening.
The easiest color plan to pull off is probably the monochromatic color scheme. Which is simply combining shades of a single color together to create a garden bed. These beds are simple to put together because choosing plants from a single color family is pretty easy to do. I know monochromatic can sound boring, but these beds don’t have to be blah. They can include great depth and interest as illustrated in the photos below.
Monochromatic color schemes include shades of red including pink, shades of orange, and shades of yellow:
Other monochromatic color schemes include shades of black, white, or violet:
Now comes the part that can be a little bit more intimidating, mixing different colors together. Mixing colors doesn’t have to be difficult and learning to successfully mix colors is easiest if you use the color wheel as a starting point. I know just hearing that you might be using a color wheel may strike terror in your heart, but take a deep breath and repeat after me “The Color Wheel Is My Friend.” Really.
The first key to understanding mixing colors is to look at the basic relationships between the colors. Using the color wheel is the easiest way to illustrate these concepts. One easy way to combine colors is to use analogous colors. Analogous colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel. These colors tend to blend together well. The diagram below shows the 6 major colors on the color wheel. Analogous colors include red and orange, orange and yellow, yellow and green, green and blue, blue and violet, and violet and red. Analogous colors can go beyond two colors, groups of red, orange, and yellow or blue, violet and red can also be considered analogous colors.
Here are some photos that illustrate use of analogous colors in the landscape. From left to right: violet and red, red and orange, orange and yellow, and green and blue.
If you are a bit more adventurous and like some contrast in your colors, try using complimentary colors, which can add a lot of pop to your bed. Complimentary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. The diagram below shows the different complimentary colors. The 3 complimentary color pairs shown here are violet and yellow, red and green, and orange and blue.
Here are some photos that illustrate the use of complimentary colors in the landscape. From left to right are orange and blue, violet and bright yellow, and violet and light yellow.
The third color scheme illustrated by the color wheel is the color triad. The color triad is created by drawing an equilateral triangle connecting 3 colors in the color wheel, see the chart below. In our illustration red, yellow and blue are a triad and violet, orange, and green are a triad.
For a real life example of each triad, look at the photos below. The photo on the left illustrates the red, yellow and blue triad while the photo on the right illustrates the violet, orange, and green triad.
Colors also fall into two different categories, dark and bright colors. Dark colors, like blue, purple and pink, tend to create a calming and serene atmosphere and will appear cool in even the worst heat. Dark tones are perfect for creating a sanctuary, where you can go to unwind and de-stress from the chaos of life. These colors are great for setting the mood for gatherings filled with soft music and quiet conversation.
Dark colors also have a tendency to make areas look larger than they are. If you have a small garden these colors can help make your area feel more spacious. Don’t forget that neutral colors will work with both dark and bright colors to expand the palette of plant material while maintaining the mood you are creating. Here are two examples of gardens using dark colors:
Bright colors draw attention and make spaces seem smaller. If you have a large space and you would like to make it seem smaller use bright reds, oranges, and yellows in the distance. This will make the planting seem closer to you. Bright colors are also great for drawing attention to areas you would like to highlight, for instance: a front entrance, featured flower beds, seating areas, or artwork. Bright colors add a festive feeling and put you in a party mood. They are good next to the patio or a deck where people tend to gather for entertainment. Here are two examples of gardens using bright colors:
I have always tended to be attracted to bright colors, but I was a bit timid in how I mixed those colors together. I tended (still do to some extent) to be most comfortable combining analogous or monochromatic colors. Then several years ago, I had a bit of a color epiphany, brought on by a giant corally-pink wall that we installed in a garden we use for a trade show. While I love the color, we used a paint color match system to duplicate the color of my winter coat. I wasn’t so sure a 15 foot tall, 100 foot long, wall painted that color was the best idea. However, after painting the wall and placing almost every color imaginable, including salmon, in front of it I realized that you should never be afraid of bright colors. A wider range of colors than you might think will work together, a fact I have to keep telling myself.
A huge, bright coral-pink wall might be a bit of overkill, although pretty fantastic; bright pink chairs might just fit the bill. If you are afraid that you might get tired of the color, don’t worry. A simple coat of paint changes everything. By now the wall has been at least 5 different colors and the chairs have to be on at least their 10th coat of paint. A coat of paint changes everything, from a bright pink party to a soothing blue sanctuary in a few simple brush strokes. OK, make that a few gallons of paint.
One last point, the most important thing is that you love your garden. If you have to leave these color principles behind to create your dream garden, do it. If you’re happy, other opinions do not matter.
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In a colorful garden or backyard white colored plants always stand out most. In this article learn about a few that you could add to lighten things up.
White flowers are often the symbol of purity, and they do lighten a space. They often frame pops of color as well, but the most attractive aspect may be the cool, soothing aura they project. Mixed with green leaves and stems, white blooms beckon observers to comforting havens with refreshing wafts of perfume and pleasing appearances.
1. Crocus Chrysanthus-“Snow Bunting”
Plant these little bulbs two inches apart in the fall for late winter to early spring blooms in heat zones 1-8. They need full to partial sun and grow up to three or four inches tall. Better yet, they’re perennials with average water needs and low maintenance.
2. Easter Lily
Bulbs can be planted in fall for summer blooming, or you can buy the blooming plants in stores and plant them after the frost warning has passed. They need sun to part sun in zones 4-9 and can grow 2-5 feet. Also perennials, they need average watering and not much care but have a lovely scent.
3. White Lilac
A white lilac shrub can hide unpleasant-looking things behind it while giving off a wonderful perfume in the spring. It’s a nice green color after it’s done blooming and can be a backdrop for white flowers around it. It grows in zones 3-7.
4. Climbing Iceberg Rose
This perfect-for-trellises rose can climb to 10 feet within a year or so. Zones 4a-9b support it, and it’s hardy, everblooming and fragrant, not to mention resistant to disease. This rose can also be used as a shrub or ground cover because it is easy to train.
Scented or unscented, these low-lying 18-inch perennials love shade and provide various shades of green for the entire growing season. The Aphrodite blooms in August, emitting a “heady” fragrance and grass-green, wide leaves. They’re also good borders in zones 5-8S/9W. Space them about 18 inches apart since they spread quite a bit and need separating after a while.
6. Shasta Daisy
This hardy perennial in zones 5-8 is dependable and blooms from early summer through early fall. About 2-3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide, it comes up in clumps and has yellow centers and darkish green leaves. A few of these clumps in the center of a garden would provide the white color you want for most of the season.
7. Delphinium Centurion white
Tall flowers resistant to deer, these delphiniums are good back line flowers for layered gardens with shorter flowers in front. They need full sun in zones 3-7S/10W and should sit 15-18 inches apart. Planted in fall, they will bloom in June and July and are great for cutting, too.
Source: Commons Wikimedia
These perennial June bloomers are good for zones 3-8 and need full sun. One of the lushest of fluffy and puffy flowers, they often appear in works of art and make some of the best arrangements of cut flowers. The green leaves last most of the summer and make a good low border.
9. Hydrangea Arborescens Incredible
At a height of 4-5 feet, this round bush with snowball-like flowers blooms all summer in zones 3-9S/W. In full or part sun, it is a centerpiece or cornerstone of the garden. Space a few of them 4-5 feet apart for a border. The very large blooms are great for cutting, and it’s a perennial.
10. Clematis Paniculata
This climbing vine produces blooms in August and September in zones 4-8S/10W. This type of clematis will grow all over a structure and cover it completely in one season and is about 30 inches tall. Another type, Snow Drift, will grow up an arbor.
11. Salvia Summer Jewel white
This plant is one of the top ten hummingbird attractions. Bees and butterflies like it as well. Blooming all summer, this 3-year perennial is good in partial shade or full sun. It needs an average amount of water in zones 7-10. It’s about 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide and great for cutting.
12. Canna lily Moonshine
Source: Canna News
This beautiful 3-4-foot-tall lily is an annual, but works well in zones 2-10. It’s easy to take care of with average watering and has large white flowers. It blooms from mid-summer to the first frost and is deer-resistant. Plant one bulb per square foot or in a container.
13. Hellebore, Christmas Rose
White hellebores bloom every December and January. They have 2-4-inch flowers, and are 15-20 inches tall. They need sun in the winter and should be planted in early spring about 12-15 inches apart. They work in zones 4-8 and need 3-6 weeks of freezing temperatures to germinate.
14. Yucca Filamentosa
Also called Adam’s Needle, these sharp leaf tips will hurt, so wear gloves to work with them. Adam’s Needle is a low maintenance plant, growing even in sandy soil, it likes dry to medium amounts of water. Up to 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide, it has showy white flowers that bloom in June and July in zones 5-10. Protect the kids.
15. Astilbe, White Gloria
Growing in full shade, full sun or partial sun, astilbe may grow to 20 by 28 inches in zones 4-9. Blooming in June, it needs average watering and is a perennial. It needs fertile soil for bushy flowers.
A white garden needs flowers blooming throughout the season as the list suggests. Green foliage shows up the whiteness effectively. It is a calming, satisfying experience to sit in one.
Popular Garden Ideas
Popular Garden Ideas
(Updated March 2019)
We all see color differently, but it’s rare to find someone who can’t see white. That’s because white, like sunlight, is composed of all the colors of the visible spectrum. In the garden, white plants reflect light, instantly brightening a shady spot. And an all-white garden is a symphony of light, where flowers and foliage join together in a succession of harmonious arrangements.
SIX STEPS TO DESIGNING A WHITE GARDEN
By definition, a white garden is color-less. As a result, it must rely on shape, size and texture to make up its structure. Think of a black and white photograph: What makes it interesting? The appeal of black and white photography lies in its ability to capture the details.
How do photographers do this? First, by playing up contrasts between dark and light. Second, by creating pattern and repetition. Last, by establishing an interplay between foreground and background that creates a sense of rhythm and movement. These are the same details that make a white garden interesting.
The interplay between dark and light make a white garden interesting
1. CHOOSE A DARK BACKDROP
White-flowering plants really ‘pop’ against a dark background. And positioning your white garden in front of a hedge only heightens the effect. Dense green shrubs like boxwood, holly or yew all provide great backdrops. Similarly, dark-toned doors, black gates, and houses painted in brown, green or gray can serve as strong frameworks.
White ‘pops’ against a dark backdrop
2. VARY THE FOLIAGE
Leaves come in countless colors, sizes, shapes and forms. Moreover, foliage not only varies in texture, but also in surface. Glossy leaves reflect light at certain angles whereas matte leaves reflect light in different directions. Focusing on leaves is a great way to add texture and contrast to a white garden.
A Mediterranean garden with different textured foliage
And if you really want to play up the contrast between dark and light, variegated foliage does double duty. From a distance, leaves with cream or white markings can mirror the look of white flowers. Most importantly, they keep ‘blooming’ long after other plants have expired.
Variegated foliage plays up dark and light
3. CHANGE UP SHAPES AND SIZES
By varying shapes and sizes of plants, you can create a sense of rhythm and movement in the one-color garden. Tall flowers establish vertical lines that lead the eye upwards while rounded plants create a horizontal flow. On the other hand, low-growing, rambling species play with perspective while visually enlarging a space.
Mixing repeating groups of tall, rounded and rambling species creates rhythmic patterns that the eye will follow naturally. And this makes for a pleasing composition.
Tall spires of white delphiniums
4. REPEAT FORMS
In the landscape, repeating forms brings rhythm and unity to a composition. I often create groups of one plant and then repeat the form elsewhere in the garden with plants whose flowers are similar.
For instance, garden roses look a lot like peonies and have a similar shape to the rounded flower heads of Annabelle hydrangeas. Tiny Boltonia asteroides, bears an uncanny resemblance to miniature Shasta daisies. And within the iris family, the elegant flowers of ‘Immortality’ echo those of the small-sized Japanese iris ‘White Swirl’ to dramatic effect.
White garden roses
5. ADD SOME BLING TO YOUR WHITE GARDEN
Silver plants reflect light and help ease the transition from one plant to another. I often place velvety ‘Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ at the front of the border to create a soft edging. For added drama, I’ll add the beautiful foliage plant Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ to the mid section of the bed. Here, its silvery, fern-like leaves provide a great contrast to other dark green, broad-leaved perennials.
Silvery stachys provides soft contrast in a white garden in Maryland
6. DEADHEAD OFTEN AND FILL IN WITH ANNUALS
The downside of white flowers is that when they fade, they rapidly turn brown. For this reason, I deadhead all my flowers regularly to maximize blooms. However, once a species stops flowering, I cut it to the ground and fill in with white-flowering annuals. These include snapdragons, sweet alyssum, nicotiana, angelonia and pompom dahlias.
GREAT PLANTS FOR WHITE GARDENS
Here are some of my favorite shrubs and perennials for creating a white garden.
- Hydrangea arborescens, ‘Annabelle’
- Mock Orange ‘Snow White Sensation’
- Potentilla ‘Abbotswood’
- Azalea ‘Delaware Valley White’
- Common Snowball Viburnum
- Gardenia ‘Crown Jewel’
- ‘Iceberg’ floribunda rose
- Delphinium ‘Centurion White’
- Phlox paniculata ‘David’
- Iris germanica ‘Immortality’
- Allium ‘Mount Everest’
- Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Summer Snowball’
- Iris reticulata (Siberian) ‘White Caucasaus’
- Paeonia ‘Duchesse de Nemours’
- Salvia ‘Summer Jewel White’
- Anenome ‘Honorine Jobert’
- Aquilegia ‘Tower White’
- Iberis sempervirens ‘Snowflake’
- White yarrow
- Hemerocallis ‘Gentle Shepherd’
- Hosta ‘Francee’
My garden is foremost green. The design inside is fabricated to be sculptural and structural, rather than a feast of twinkling colors. I am still training to ‘grow’ my garden. Which means that I only cut the plants once a year, mostly by the end of March. After the cutting the various rhythms in heights, tempo and agility to crawl through tiny openings, orchestrate the spring, summer and early winter composition. My work is in the selection and spacing of the plants and the morphology of the earth surface. From various angles there are different variations in lower parts that slice through higher parts. Much like the impression of flying above a landscape and watching the canyons and mountain rigs and their mutual interaction because one is there due to the other. That is the most obvious reason why I like to keep it mostly green in my private garden: to enjoy the structures plants provide, as signs of circumstance adaptation. Similar to being high above the landscape where there is much less variety in colors than on the ground, nearby the explosive nectar and seed driven dances for survival. This provides another reason to garden in green: gardens are not about sex, they are about mutual disturbances and inventiveness. People have made gardens into a narrative of sex and abundance in desire, as if there is no end to the glory of seducing and affection. Yet plants are such strange creatures. They mate with each other through insects and carrying animals. They pare as much with the earth, the atmosphere and the nutrition cycles. They reflect so many different life processes as they adopted in size, structure and strategy, that they can be studied as signifiers of a language that is universal. For this reason alone, I would rather have a black and white garden than a colorful one. To study the universal language of life through the growth of various plants on a few square meters. To have access to such an experiential learning is so very precious and yet so little practiced in everyday life. Colors only distract the structure of life. Frederick Law Olmsted also distrusted flowery beds in his conception of Central Park. These would only distract people from digging deep into their revelatory walks, guided by long vista’s and grand perspectives. Display flowers to people and they are quickly satisfied as with a series of inconsistent snapshots that have an appeal due to their intensity instead of their story. Special effects with large holes in the plot, to simply forget about yourself and follow whomever provided such blissful distraction from everyday life. My garden however, should display everyday life in its very integral subtlety of inventiveness.
A Green and White Garden
Green and white gardens interest me more now, than they did twenty years ago. They have the same sophisticated visual appeal as a great black and white photograph. Michael Kenna’s landscape photographs are breathtaking; his view of the landscape is so much about the sculpture of green spaces. The success of the great French landscapes has much to do with great, strictly edited design. I would call my personal point of view about landscape hopelessly romantic Italian-I can get out of hand fast. When I hear green and white garden from a client, I think edited and sculptural.
These clients have lived many years in a lovely old Tudor style house built in the 1920’s. However, they both have a love for clean, modern and edited lines. Working with them has produced a garden that has elements both friendly to the architecture of the house, and their point of view. They were both clear that a green and white garden would suit them best.
The landscape of the front of the house was already in place when I met them. My input involved the sizes of the flower beds, and the construction and installation of the window boxes. The profusion of flowers is decidedly English in feeling, but the green and white has a crisply contemporary flavor. The strong, dark green horizontal line of the boxwood hedge contrasts and compliments the mass of the oval yews. This element is balanced by the four columnar gingkos that frame the walk at the street. The simple steel windowbox is a focal point at the visual end of the walk.
tThe flower beds were planted in stripes, perpendicular to the wall. White dahlias are skirted with white polka-dot plant. Striped of white New Guinea impatiens are bordered on both sides by simple rectangles of sagina subulata-Scotch moss.
The upper level is planted more freely, with variegated licorice, white petunias and more polka dots. This bedding plant scheme derives more visual interest from its texture and layout than from the plant species.
The window boxes are lush with green angelina, euphorbia, and licorice. The angular nicotiana alata white frames the more orderly growing Perfume nicotiana series in white and lime green.
The landscape renovation of the rear yard fell to me. They were certain that they wanted water in some form, and a more orderly, primarily green garden. The shade had not been so friendly to their collection of perennials, and the winter interest was slight. The existing stone terrace off the porch was easy to dress up with Italian terra cotta pots devoted to green and white annual plants.�
There are plenty of white foliages plants-such as caladiums and hostas, that do well with this level of shade. I did pay particular attention to planting green foliage plants of interest as well.
A custom made steel cistern positioned on axis to the porch, and the side walk organizes the space. It was constructed with legs tall enough to hide the fountain pump, but also to provide for the eventual height of the boxwood surrounding it. Bordered in boxwood, a run of limelight hydrangeas provides another level of interest against the green arborvitae wall.
Variegated plectranthus, white New Guinea impatiens and the lime green scotch moss echo the porch plantings.
My clients do have a love for stone; the wall pictured above is but one example of the beautiful stonework on this property. Previously obscured by perennials and boxwood, the view to the wall is now unobstructed. A group of five columnar maples provide green screening above the wall. We gently sloped the bed down from the wall, and planted the boxwood at the base of that bed. That wall has taken on a very clean sculptural look, its traditional granite notwithstanding. The mix of soft and strict is a pleasing one.
I’d like to add a coda to Nan’s most excellent post on using black and white photography to evaluate the role of tone, or value, as an element in creating pleasing combinations. I’ve got a whole other diagnostic use for black and white, but more about that in a moment.
First I’d like to try to shed some light on the whole tone notion by referring to my color mentor, Sydney Eddison. She and I spent a couple years working on a book about color, ”the Gardener’s Palette: Creating Color in the Garden,” (look for it in the GGW bookshop) and I can tell you it was a treat to work with someone who’s been studying color formally and informally for nigh on 50 years, and who shares her knowledge so readily. While Sydney would agree with Andrew Lawson that tone is a color dulled by the addition of gray, she puts a finer point on the topic. In addition to tone, she recognizes a shade, a color darkened by the addition of black (think ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips, Canna ‘Australia’, or even a purple smokebush (Cotinus coggygria ’Purple Robe’) and a tint, a color brightened by the addition of white (think pink, Creamsicle orange, or pale blue forget-me-nots). So we have shades at the dark end of the black-to-white spectrum, tints at the light end, and tones covering the vast swath that lies between.
To get maximal tonal contrast, you can pit shades against tints. Or anchor a planting with shades, and accent it with tones. I think that helps explain why dark, “black” leafed plants make superlative backdrops for almost any companion, like the Japanese maple does for the verbascum in the scene above from Sydney’s garden. And all those stunning gold foliage-based combos Nan shows, well, those golds are really tints—there’s no gray or black in those chartreusey or lemony colors—and tints jump out against tones (or shades). So when considering tonal contrasts, or harmonies, it may help to keep in mind these three separate provinces of any individual color. Now, on to my coda.
Black and white photography is great for assessing the tonal range of a planting. And it is even better at offering what I think of as an X-ray view of the garden. No other technique or trick I’ve ever seen or heard about is as effective at revealing the “bones”, or structural elements of a garden. And all gardens need bones. They are the essential component for providing year-round interest. I’ve seen lots of gardens, and heard lots of gardeners complain that they know something is wrong with their garden, but they don’t know what. I’ve found, 99 times out of 100, that structure is the missing piece. Either there’s none at all or, perhaps, not enough, or maybe what’s there is assembled weakly, or is not prominent enough.
A black and white photo reveals any lack in an instant. Black and white photography, as opposed to color, is much more about shape. B&W photos live or die by the expert juxtaposition of shape and texture, heightened by light. Color photos are all about…color! Which tends to be very distracting if you’re looking for something besides color. If you look at a colorless image, the shape and texture become the dominant elements. So does the idea of line-you can judge for yourself if the edge of bed or border creates a pleasingly sinuous shape, or is as rigorously, crisply formal as you’d like.
When you look at a color photo of your garden you see…all those colors! And don’t they look neat! But when you remove the color, you see shape and texture and line. Structure. Here are two obvious examples, the first from Sydney’s garden. Yes, those big, billowy plants create a lovely color scene, one that seems just about overripe with potential.
But when that view is simplified to black and white, the beauty of the structural composition emerges. See how all those shapes and textures combine in pleasing proportions? See how the ornamental grass plays a crucial role in this combination? To me this is an effective garden vignette, even in B&W.
Now let’s take a view from a garden near Sydney’s house. Lots of color, looks pretty good with all those black eyed-Susans.
But now the black and white version. As it makes clear, there is virtually no structure here at all. As soon as those black-eyed Susans go by, that garden is over. Mush. No bones about it, so to speak. Which is fine–if you’re designing a peak bloom garden that shines brightly for a few weeks and is then over and done. But most of us want more lasting effects. So we build in bones.
So if you feel the urge to get out and X-ray parts of your own garden, here a few simple tips to make the process easier. First, to get B&W images, follow the simple steps Nan included in her post. That’s the easy part. Now, when you’re actually out in the garden taking pictures, shoot wider views that allow you to analyze big bites of the landscape. Of course you can micro-manage too, and examine aspects of varied combinations as Nan did, but with an eye toward structure this time around. Most importantly take you pictures on an overcast or rainy day, or toward dawn or dusk. You won’t want lots of harsh shadows mucking up the picture. That can make it hard to see the bones. I need to shout out to my Nashville buddy, gardener and plantsman extraordinaire J. Paul Moore, who first showed me just how useful black and white photography can be for assessing garden designs. Thanks, Paul!
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