color complements

John Bryan
Mon, 27 Sep 2004 08:33:05 PDT
Dear Judy:

Beauty is, we are told, in the eye of the beholder. While I appreciate
your comments regarding the mix of colors, and while you may be correct
in being so careful with plantings, I have yet to see colors in nature
that clash and be 'harsh'. Perhaps this is more apparent to the distaff
side of a family. Such harshness as you describe is perhaps not so
apparent to males. I have seen gardens divided into rooms where one room
is white, another blue, another shades of red and the result was most
pleasing. If such colors are selected with contrasts being provided by
foliage texture, form and color, the combination can be soft, despite
the colors of the flowers being that which you describe as harsh. In
your opinion, is there ever a need, in a garden, to plant colors that
are, or could be, regarded as harsh? I think it would be quite a
difficult task to design a border which would consist of colors that
just did not blend, I suppose this depends on scale, which always should
play a part. Your comments were interesting. Thanks, Cheers, John E.
  Glattstein wrote:
> Unless plants are grown in isolation with a neutral gray background, there
> is also the effect of adjacent plants on our subjective look at their color.
> Colors next to each other on the color wheel relate harmoniously. Colors
> across from each other on the color wheel, such as red to green, blue to
> orange, purple to yellow, are called complementary colors. They have the
> strongest contrast. Just as a pinch of seasoning spices up a dish, too much
> can spoil it. A flower border designed mostly (I want to primarily, but
> that's a dangerous term here, liable to misinterpretation) with related
> colors, generally softened with some white to form tints of the chosen, more
> saturated colors, will gain some zing with just a soupcon of the color
> complement.
> Purple with violet, lavender, and lilac, and just a smidge of a pale yellow
> is attractive.
> A border entirely of equal amounts of true blue and saturated orange is
> harsh.
> Further, the adjacent color alters our perception of the color pair: just
> envision a square of turquoise against green. Very different from a square
> of turquoise against pink.
> Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color, is a lovely little book on this
> subject.
> Judy in overcast but still mild New Jersey
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