The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Colour planning of the garden by George F Tinley, Thomas Humphreys and Walter Irving (London, 1924)

Horticultural design with colour

Previous - Next

It is a sign of distinct advance in the practice of horticulture that there is now so strong an interest in the subject of colour, and so general a desire for instruction or guidance in its best use. For colour, in gardening as in painting, does not mean a garish or startling effect, such as may be provided by a bed of scarlet Geranium in a setting of green turf; but it means the arrangement of colour with the deliberate intention of producing beautiful pictorial effect, whether by means of harmony or of contrast. In the old days of sixty years ago, it was simply the most garish effects that were sought for; the brightest colourings that could be obtained in red, blue, and yellow were put close together, often in rings like a target, and there would be meandering lines, wriggling along for no reason, of Golden Feather Feverfew, edged with a companion wriggle of Lobelia and an inner line of scarlet Geranium, the only excuse being that such a ribbon border was then in fashion. It was at a time when endless invention and ingenuity, time and labour, were wasted in what was known as carpet-bedding; elaborate and intricate patterns worked out in succulents and a variety of dwarf plants. When the ingenious monstrosity was completed, the chief impression it gave was that it must have taken a long time to do; whether it was worth doing did not come in question, for this again was the fashion.. This must have been the time when general taste in horticulture was in its deepest degradation, when the sweet old garden flowers were thought not worth notice,, and had been abolished in favour of the elaborate display of tender plants for some few months at most.