Color Snapshots from England

I'm just home after hosting a wonderful tour of English gardens for Earthbound Expeditions. So many memories and so many ideas – but I wanted to share just a few images that highlight the use of color restraint and how effective that is as a design tool rather than a wild 'jellybean' approach.

Monochromatic Schemes

The white garden at Sissinghurst is an iconic example of this planting style and color restraint.

A white wisteria covering the arbor in the white garden at Sissinghurst

Due to a delayed spring, we were fortunate to experience wisteria in full bloom wherever we went. The arbor at RHS Garden Wisley was outstanding, draped with heavily perfumed blooms ranging from white to lavender, all underplanted with purple alliums

The wisteria arbor at RHS Wisley was in full bloom

Citrus Shades

This zesty combination at Sissinghurst caught my eye

The acid-yellow bracts of many varieties of Euphorbia (spurge) set the scene in several gardens we visited. I loved the combination above at Sissinghurst featuring golden-yellow bearded iris, yellow Corydalis and Japanese forest grass backed by splashes of orange wall flowers (Erysimum) and scarlet Ladybird poppies (Papaver communtanum 'Ladybird').

The gardens at Great Dixter are well known for its use of color

Likewise this combination at Great Dixter screamed citrus colors, this time cooled with splashes of white.

Color Echoes

Repeating colors within a vignette brings cohesion to a scene. I was struck by this bearded iris against the brick wall at Sissinghurst – such a clever detail.

A brick-red and buttermilk yellow bearded iris repeats the colors of the surrounding wall

Likewise the clematis sheltered beneath the red-toned foliage of a tree, the colors especially appreciated when backlit by the sun – again at Sissinghurst.

When backlit by the sun this foliage glowed like a precious jewel – Sissinghurst

Fleeting Garden Moments

Then there are those special moments that just stop you in their tracks. The color may be short-lived in the garden, but lifelong in the heart.

A weather wooden door framed by Ceanothus and Euphorbia

Whether framing a door or gracing a table, these are just some of the moments I know I will recall.

A simple bouquet of cut flower from the garden welcomes friends: King John's Nursery & Gardens

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  1. Michelle Boogades on May 30, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    Gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing; looking forward to more with you. Your perspective is always such a joy and assists others in a richer experience. Thank you,
    Virginia Beach, Virginia

    • Karen Chapman on May 30, 2023 at 4:50 pm

      That's so kind of you Michelle – thank you. I'm so glad you enjoy seeing design through my eyes.

  2. Gale Wald on June 1, 2023 at 11:29 am

    Hi Karen,
    So many beautiful vignettes to consider. Orange is not in my garden but may consider it after you sharing such lovely photos!
    Take care,

    • Karen Chapman on June 2, 2023 at 7:24 pm

      Lovely to hear from you Gale. Try playing with coral rather than tangerine orange. It will blend with what you have but still hint at citrus.

  3. Steve McLeish on June 4, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    Love it all!!! Thanks for sharing. Would love to see all the other pictures!

    • Karen Chapman on June 7, 2023 at 7:45 am

      Hey Steve – you were missed!