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Green, the Sixth Primary

Green is nature's own color. Without it, all compositions would be garish or else insignificant. Yet green seems to be the last color to be appreciated by the aesthete. Often it is omitted in the gardener's color planning; only when it is considered, can a broad picture with happy relationships be secured.

The urge for "riots of color" in all parts of the garden at all times makes us overlook green. Such neglect not only impairs the true effectiveness of color compositions, but also robs the garden of more permanent beauty. Color at best is transient. Trees, shrubs, and other foliages provide the setting for color in the garden.

Foliage ranges in color from deep dull green through lighter gray-green, blue and yellow-green to the darkest of the evergreens. Some foliages have shiny, light-reflecting surfaces. In selecting plants for background or accent near the focal point of the garden, consider foliage color so that you may choose effective foils for the color compositions of the beds and borders. Yellow-green or blue-green foliages are strident when they are just behind a carefully arranged harmony that will not be at its best if yellow or blue is included. Compositions are stronger and wider when you place near them a foliage that can become part of them. The gray-green of iris is more effective in front of gray-green spireas and bush honeysuckles than with the dark or dull green of Viburnum dentatum. In the borders themselves remember that foliage is important. Green is a dependable peacemaker among strong hues. It helps to blend colors and increases the feeling of unity.

Many designers employ certain plants like Lymegrass for foliage alone. The thalictrums have pleasing blossoms but more important is their gray- to blue-green foliage so finely divided it creates strong textural accent, which relieves too heavy masses of other foliages or color. Small groups of Japanese iris or hemerocallis, the lance-leaved plants, are important because the line of their foliage can create accent among the more usual rounded masses of perennials. The coarse-textured foliages, especially of peonies, make an excellent accent for the long border when used among lighter-colored or finer-textured foliages and masses of color.


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