Big Ideas for Using Color in Small Spaces
So much color, so many ideas, so little time! That's the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in a nutshell. Thank goodness for my camera because that's how I can look back on special visual highlights to glean ideas for my own garden and share some of my favorites with you. In this post I'm focusing on some of the details from the City Living displays that caught me eye. These displays are created within an 12' x 6' footprint and intended to represent a typical city size balcony or condo patio, showing that a small space doesn't mean compromising on style.
If you enjoyed my last post on Fearless Design – secrets for using bold color in the garden but wondered how those ideas could be translated to even smaller spaces, this post is for you
Camden Gardens won the award for Best Design in the City Living Displays this year and I can understand why. A border of glossy, golden yellow containers framed the space and brought instant sunshine to this petite grey Seattle patio. These were planted with a simple repeating combination of chartreuse conifers, vibrant red and gold tulips, yellow begonias and bi-color primroses.
Clusters of tall, white, circular containers were the perfect counterpoint to the linear display while one single bronze vessel with unique geometric lines took the container display from well done to exceptional. The red and yellow color scheme was continued in all the containers – except a single bronze one, which included blue flowering accents.
I also loved the use of a sculptural piece of driftwood inserted into one of the tall containers, its organic shape acting as a frame for several colorful glass balls while also introducing the juxtaposition of a natural element within the man-made.
All the finishing touches were pulled together with an artistic eye for both repetition and contrast. It's a perfect oasis for an Seattle couple – and their pampered pup, as this patio includes a comfy dog bed and water bowl for the furry family member too.
Color for Cocktail Gardens
Dee Montpetit is no stranger to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and her display this year, "A Botanical Soiree" had all her usual hallmarks of great use of color, interesting container combinations, and attention to detail.
The silver chairs, table, and buffet had an airiness to their design, the transparency enhancing the sense of space on the small patio.
Turquoise is the key color, featured in containers, a tall bubbling fountain, the mosaic mirror frame, and soft furnishings. Being used on different elements throughout the patio, the eye moves from one splash of blue to the next – a key design trick to create a sense of cohesion but also making a small space seem larger.
Silver reflects light, and grey Seattle days – and evenings – need all the help they can get, so it was a wise use of color for the furniture while matte black containers anchor the design.
Against one wall, in place of a traditional screen or fence Dee wrapped tiny LED lights around cut birch branches. I'm seriously going to copy that idea somewhere!! Can you imaging the tiny twinkles of light at night?
Notice her use of oval containers too – they take up a smaller footprint than round or square pots so are ideal where space is at a premium yet can still be planted with trees, shrubs, perennials, succulents and bulbs – all top-dressed with sparkly blue glass pebbles.
A restrained color palette of silver, blue, and pink doesn't translate to boring when Dee is let loose! I loved her intriguing textures and unique combinations that included fragrant lavender and hyacinths, with spring daffodils and primroses all nestled within a gorgeous foliage tapestry of astelia, spurge, cushion bush (Calocephalus brownii), succulents and more.
Dee chose colors for the container plantings that would work well after dark as well as being beautiful during the day . White, pale pink, and soft lavender all glow softly at dusk, which together with the twinkling lights and silver elements ensure this patio is ready for any soiree.
Final Shout Out
I have to commend Grace Hensley for this fun detail in her City Living garden. You KNOW you want to copy this idea. If you have kids, grandkids – or are a child at heart, don't you want to tell the story of the little mouse who lives behind the teeny tiny black door…..
Are you ready for spring now?
If you want more ideas for designing for small spaces check out Susan Morrison's latest book The Less is More Garden, You can also read my review here.