Color, albeit the most recognized design element, is still a mystery to many. The color wheel is considered the key to understanding the relationship of all colors of the rainbow. By organizing the colors into the wheel’s signature circular arrangement, Sir Isaac Newton developed this useful tool for all of us to pick out colors that work together.
Once understood, “Roy G. Biv” can be a gardener’s best friend. Use the color wheel as a source for inspiration in developing the color palette for your next plant combinations. Far too often, we simply rely on what has always worked for us without exploring the possibilities of other color options. Certain colors just work together, and referencing a color wheel will help empower your color confidence. Opposites attract, and complementary colors, those opposite the color wheel, work perfectly together. Red and green, blue and orange, or maybe chartreuse and red-violet. Analogous colors are neighbors on the color wheel and get along quite well. Examples could be green, chartreuse, and yellow, or perhaps red, red-orange and orange.
Unlike other design elements, color evokes a sense of human emotion and thought. Cooler colors, like blues and violets tend to be soothing and evoke a sense of calmness, while warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows seem to grab people’s attention and bring emphasis to those areas of the design. Warm colors grab the viewer’s attention, even from a distance, whereas cool colors are best used as accents to warm colors or when viewed up close.
So get out there and wave your rainbow flags proudly, as the colors are symbols of our community’s diversity and inclusiveness, our colorful history, and our striving each day for equality. Just like our GLBT community, the plant world is full or diversity and color. Play with the wheel and celebrate the rainbow of plant and color options you have to work with. Perhaps you’ll surprise yourself with a new signature color combination—allowing your garden to develop a colorful history of its own.
Scott Endres is co-owner of Tangletown Gardens and Tangletown’s Wise Acre Eatery on 54th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis.