Using a Signature Color
The display gardens from the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show may be dismantled but the memories and design inspiration will feed my creative soul for years to come thanks to photographs .
As I reviewed my images this morning I was struck once again how several designers had used orange as a signature color.
A signature color is a thematic statement, something that is repeated in different ways throughout a space to create a sense of unity. Used too often it can be jarring, using it too little and the intent is lost.
In my own 5 acre garden I have two signature colors in different areas: blue and orange. Blue predominates in the front garden as it ties to the color of the front door. I use it in the foliage of blue-toned conifers, blue flowers, gorgeous containers and glass art, all framed with shades of green, white and silver.
In my back garden is the 'island border', measuring 150' x 50' and anchored at one end by a cabin (just glimpsed in the earlier photograph). A strolling path through this large border invites exploration. Here my signature color is orange, established by bold glossy containers and re-enforced by the emerging foliage of spirea, Flasher daylilies and other details.
Not surprisingly, therefore, I was drawn to several show gardens that also used orange as the signature color.
1. Mochiwa mochiya—Rice Cake, Rice Cake Maker
Garden Creator: Jefferson Sustainable Landscaping
This remarkable, gold-award winning garden celebrates a fusion of cultures. The scene above highlights the eastern influence with a low dining table, granite spheres and an understated plant selection that focuses on foliage and texture over flowers or a rainbow of colors. The judicious placement of orange containers, cushions and foliage moves the eye through the space.
Luxurious appliances and high-end finishes are sure to satisfy the western aesthetic and taste buds! Who wouldn't want to be the chef in this outdoor kitchen? Vivid orange hues are the perfect counterpoint to matte grey pavers and stonework while also visually connecting the dining experience.
2. Pizzeria | Decumani
Garden Creator: Adam Gorski Landscapes, Inc.
Neapolitan pizza is known for its simplicity, with just a few, quality ingredients used in its preparation. Likewise this outdoor 'pizza garden' relies on simplicity of materials and restraint in color to create an inviting space reminiscent of an Italian courtyard.
Worried that your signature color of today might not be your signature color of tomorrow? This garden shows you how to be creative with color on a tight budget,
Notice that all the key furniture, containers and cabinets are in neutral tones. The bold color comes from inexpensive flowers, specifically orange primroses and ranunculus.
The same flowers have been tucked under more permanent foliage plants in the border for a sense of unity. These could be replaced by orange begonias in summer and pumpkins in fall.
This is a perfect way to try a new color without long term commitment
3. Mid-Mod-Mad…it’s Cocktail Hour!
Garden Creator: Father Nature Landscapes Inc.
Designer Sue Goetz was the mastermind behind this award-winning display garden. A stunning “less is more” garden with an updated mid-century design, it embraces simplistic plant choices and strong geometry of hardscaping made popular in the 1950’s and 60’s (and making a big comeback today).
While the orange cushions are the obvious 'color pop', this signature color is repeated in many other, more subtle details.
Wood tones also read 'orange' in the right setting as can be seen by the cedar on this water wall and the outdoor bar. Rusty metal or weathered copper have a similar understated orange tone.
Orange hair grass (Carex testacea) is used for the meadow planting, the orange-tipped, olive-green blades a perfect choice.
While the all yellow Tete a Tete narcissus are the obvious choice for a spring garden display, Sue selected Jet Fire because of its orange trumpet to tie in with the theme. Some additional inexpensive accents such as napkins, place mats and cut flowers complete the scene.
What is your signature color?