Green – Making The Most Of Nature’s Neutral by Nicki Jackson

Green – we see it everywhere. Not only is it the predominant colour of nature but also, because of its position on the visible colour spectrum of light, it is the colour most readily seen by the human eye (ranging from yellow-green during the day (555 nanometers) and blue-green (505 nanometers) at night time). This ease of visibility makes for relaxing and restful viewing and being at the mid-point of the colour spectrum it also makes green a harmonising, balancing colour; true green being neither warm nor cool. When it comes to gardens and landscapes green joins the other ubiquitous neutral colours of black, white, grey/silver and shades of brown.

The power of neutral colours is their almost non-power; apart from white in the garden they are rarely the star of the show, often considered perfect for backdrops or for separating different palettes. Create a border with a sea of green foliage and yellow flowers and it will always be considered a yellow border, never a green and yellow border. Create a whole garden with flowers of hues, tints and shades of yellow and it’s generally classed as a monochromatic yellow garden and all of the green providing the foil for the yellow stars is all but ignored.

Green however offers a fantastic opportunity for creating a monochromatic space in itself and because of its prevalence in nature the range of possibility is vast; for colour, size and texture. With so much to choose from though there is a danger of losing cohesion and balance so in order to make the most of Nature’s neutral it’s worth keeping a few design principles in mind when making your green choices.

It may sound obvious but don’t forget to opt for plants that support the overall design style of your garden. Monochromatic green schemes can be styled in many different ways as our images show, the trick is to ensure plants are chosen for a reason; for the qualities they can bring to a scheme above and beyond just being green – for instance are they there for height, or texture, or privacy, or structure? Whatever the reason, make sure each and every one of them is working for the scheme.

As with all planting schemes, good structure will pay dividends so consider the mix of evergreens, deciduous and perennials. Evergreens will carry the green colour mantle throughout the winter and often play a huge role in providing structure to the garden especially if you want to maintain the green scheme throughout the year. Topiary and conifers are the usual choices here but things like evergreen grasses and pines give contrasting shapes and shrubs such as Fatsia japonica is usually hardy enough in the UK to add a touch of the exotic.

Keep things interesting in green by mixing shades, tints and hues combined with texture, shapes and sizes of plants and leaves, this is where the possibilities lie; the potential number of combinations is huge! But getting too carried away can lead to disarray so try to be restrained. Less can often be more so it’s worth repeating elements to add to the cohesion of a scheme too – this repetition calms the senses and gives the eye opportunities for pause. It might be repetition of leaf shape or plant shape, or a certain hue that punctuates the space.

With the busy buzz of seasonal festivities all around it’d be only natural to be longing for a more restful environment and with its easy visibility and its harmonising qualities green may just be the colour of choice when it comes to casting some monochromatic magic.

© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2019