by Connie Oswald Stofko
Susan Martin of Michigan was looking through photos she had taken years ago in gardens all over the country.
She came across a photo of a hosta in a colorful pot and realized she had planted a hosta in a pot that was the same color as the pot in the picture.
She hadn’t done it purposely; she didn’t even remember the photo.
Yet “It wasn’t a coincidence,” Martin said. “My brain knew that color when I saw the pot at the garden center.”
Martin will share lots of photos so “You can sit back and soak it in — it will sink into your subconscious” as the keynote speaker at PLANT WNY‘s daylong Education Conference on Friday, Feb. 7 at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Rd., Depew.
The program is open to Master Gardeners and advanced gardeners as well as to professionals. (The material may be too advanced for beginners.)
Martin will present “Moving Beyond Pretty—Plants with Bonus Points” and “A Designer’s Tapestry: Weaving Together Color, Texture and Structure in the Gardens.” Martin is a freelance garden communicator who is in her 20th year in the industry.
You can see the entire day’s presentations here. There will also be a trade show and lunch.
The fee is $90 if you’re not a member of PLANT WNY. If you register after Monday, Feb. 3, the price goes up. See registration details here.
And mark your calendar for Plantasia, which will be held by PLANT WNY Thursday through Sunday, March 19-22, with Preview Night on Wednesday, March 18.
Working with color
In her talk “A Designer’s Tapestry: Weaving Together Color, Texture and Structure in the Gardens,” Martin said she will “help people understand what they are seeing when they look at beautifully designed gardens so they can recognize, then duplicate” what they see.
She will share photos of gardens designed by famous landscape designers and not-so-famous designers, done in many different styles. Martin will discuss color, texture and structure, which are “the three critical pieces you need to get right to create a beautiful, harmonious space.”
In a phone interview, Martin shared with me some tips about color. Think about the color of your flowers, leaves, containers and other items in your landscape.
She groups colors into warm, cool and neutral.
Warm colors are:
Cool colors are:
Neutral colors in your garden are:
- Tan (think of some grasses)
- Dark green
- Dark purple (such as the leaf of some shrubs)
Warm colors draw the eye closer, Martin said, so they make large spaces feel cozy. They’re welcoming, so they’re good colors to use on a front porch. Warm colors also increase the energy level and stimulate the appetite, which is why restaurants choose to paint the dining area red, she said.
Red phlox and the blooms of milkweed are examples of warm colors. You may want to choose it for chair cushions in entertainment areas.
Cool colors recede and disappear into shadows, so if you have a shallow lot, choose plants with cool colors for the back of your yard to make it seem deeper, Martin suggested.
Because cool colors are more calming and meditative, they are good choices around a bench where you’d like to read a book and relax.
When you choose a pot for your plants, Martin suggests using a pot that is in the same color group as your plants or that is in a neutral color. Using a warm-colored container with cool-colored plants (or vice versa) can be visually confusing and jarring, she said.
Get practice with color this winter
Try out new color combinations with this tip from Martin.
Buy cut flowers from a florist and try out new color combinations, and see how they work with different colored pots.
“Maybe you’ve never thought of using blue and orange together, for instance, but you find that you love it when you try it out in a bouquet,” Martin said. “Or maybe this exercise shows you that you don’t like how pink and orange flowers look together in a blue container.
“This is something you can experiment with during the winter so you’ll be ready come springtime. These things will help you prepare your shopping list so you’ll be ready to hit the ground running in spring.”