It’s hard to limit your color palette in the garden. Even those of us who gravitate toward a handful of colors in our homes and wardrobes are easy marks for flashy plants, when they are in bloom at the nursery check out counter. But if you can restrain yourself, it not only makes shopping easier, it makes designing a cohesive garden a deceptively easy task.
Quite honestly, I’ve rarely seen a garden with a minimal palette. Blithewood Garden, on the grounds of Bard College, gave me a glimpse of one. I wish I could say I carried the idea home with me, but what can I say, I’m weak willed at garden centers. However I have seen a couple of private gardens – both by garden designers – that almost incorporated this scaled down approach to color. I guess garden designers are not much different than the shoe makers kids who never had new shows. They don’t have the time, or the inclination, to have a fussy garden at home. However both designers could not resist adding a little complementary yellow*.
Blithewood is not a large garden, but it is very formal. It’s a sunken walled garden that you barely see as you approach from the parking lot. Even the first view from above doesn’t do it justice. But once you are in the garden, the calming effect is felt immediately. It’s a very hot, Mediterranean influenced garden, with gravel paths and stone walls, but it feels cool thanks to the soothing grays, blues and purply-pink. Think how many plants fit this array of colors and you won’t feel constrained at all.