Consider two groups of colors, one with the dominant note the same for all its members, but with the modifying notes different; the other with different dominants, but possessing the same modifier. As a rule the first group will clash while the second will harmonize. Prom this it may be deduced that where color plays a large part, the dominant notes should possess variety, with enough of the modifier present to harmonize them and pull them together. This refers of course only to colors of high intensity, for the duller tones are seldom inharmonious in combination. This is because they possess the common element of neutrality.
In the design chapter it was said that the final result of every design scheme should be a balance. The balance applies to color as well as to form. This does not necessarily imply that the same color note must be repeated on opposite sides of the design,-there is no chance for subtlety in such a treatment,-but it means that the color accents of whatever sort, though quite dissimilar, must form a balance.
Plant colors are seen in leaf, blossom, fruit, and twig or stem, and the predominance of any of these elements will determine the color value of the plant. To be sure, many plants are interesting in all these ways, but necessarily at different seasons of the year. Texture of the plant surfaces will have a considerable influence on the color value of a plant. The rhododendron leaf is attractive not only on account of its dark, warm green color, but also because of the glossy texture, which catches the light sharply, making brilliant high lights and shadows, and giving greater variety to the foliage color. The "dusty miller," because of its rough surface, and the common velvety mullein have a different color value on account of their texture, which catches the light so as to spread a "bloom" over the surface, and the result is that the natural colors, at a slight distance, are lessened in intensity and neutralized.
Plants vary in color value as their distance from the observer increases, and in planning the color of a planting scheme it is well to bear in mind the position and distance from which the plants are to be viewed. Distance always tends to decrease value contrasts and to add blue to hues. Plants that, close to the observer, might appear too brilliant, serve well to emphasize a more distant point, and conversely flowers of delicate hue must be closely viewed in order to produce any effect. In the problem chapter (Fig. 42) will be seen a scheme of planting in which the dimensions appear to have been increased by the use of bluer foliage hues as the planting recedes from the spectator.
Green is, of course, the most common and satisfactory plant color, and it is of all gradations and varieties, from the silvery green of the poplar to the russet greens of the sedges, dark and light, intense and neutral. The other plant colors may be grouped under the primaries, red, yellow, and blue.
Under the reds will come pink, which is only a light red, scarlet, crimson, and magenta; under the yellows, greenish yellow, lemon yellow, and orange yellow, as well as all the browns, which are really deep shades of orange and yellow. The blues vary from green-blue at one extreme to purples and violets at the other. It will be a simple matter to group plant colorings approximately under these heads.
Each of the seasons has its own peculiar range of colors, and therefore it should be easy, in looking at a picture, to determine by the season colors the time at which it was planted.
In the spring the greens of high value predominate, with a strong leaning toward the yellow greens; yellows; light blues; and white in the blossoms.
The summer is least interesting of all in color, for most of the greens have turned dark and dull, and there is little color accent; but wherever an accent occurs, it is probably stronger than spring color would be.
In the autumn there is an immense variety of yellows, oranges, reds, and browns, all of which contrast beautifully with an evergreen background.
There is not much range of color in the winter. The evergreens are the strongest note of all, and some of the oaks retain their leaves till spring, while the other trees have only their twig coloring, varying from gray to brown as a rule. There are brilliant exceptions to this in the bright red and yellow dogwoods, and in all the berry-bearing shrubs, which now appear to good advantage, silhouetting their clusters against the dark background.
A "year-round" garden should aim at a color interest that will never be lost, although it will progress through leaf, blossom, fruit, and twig, from one phase to another as the seasons change.
The seasonal development of a shrub causes it to vary its color in a regular progression, moving its dominant color note through a sort of cycle of changes. Plants differing widely in spring foliage approach a standard green in late summer, to become again diversified in the autumn. This may be called "color rotation."
While plant color is largely green, this green will incline somewhat toward one of the primaries, so that, regardless of species, plants may be grouped under red, blue, yellow, and even purple greens. This modifying element of the plant green will appear most strongly at the beginning and the end of the plant's yearly growth, for during the summer season there is little variety in plant greens (Fig. 20). The Japanese barberry, for example, sends forth reddish buds, which gradually turn into the dark, dull green of high summer; then it begins another change toward the brilliant red of its autumn foliage. There has been a progression or rotation from red through green and back to red again. The Viburnum lan-tana, or wayfaring tree, has a rotation from purpie back to purple, and the Forsythia runs the scale of yellow.
There is a fourth class still which does not come into the same category, its autumn coloring being the complementary of the spring; but this grouping by color rotation will be found to be of great assistance to the landscape-designer. Trees, herbaceous plants, and vines may be grouped in the same fashion; for example, the Colorado blue spruce, the Japanese ivy, and the willow.
The season at which the major color interest is most highly developed will determine the principal color usefulness of the plant.
Color planting is of two sorts; one to produce unity, and the other accent, though all accents should be unified by balance of attractiveness if not of similar color. The unity will be secured by the predominance of either value or hue. Intensity at its highest tends to differentiate colors, so when the opposite of intensity or neutrality appears, that is also a unifying element.
Unification is only a matter of selection. Shrubs may be chosen according to their values, light, medium, or dark; or because yellow, red, or blue appears as a modifying element in all. If both one value and one hue are given preference, there will be too little variety (except in case of formal planting, where form is the principal consideration), and monotony will result.
The problem may be stated in another way: if values be similar, considerable color range is permissible; and if the colors be similar, the values need not be restricted. In this very point it may be seen that the impress of a designer's personality and sense of discrimination may be stamped upon a garden, for Nature does not discriminate, but plays all the trump-cards possible-at every turn. Nature limits herself only by conditions of growth; the landscape-designer should be less eclectic. Unity in a design will impress the beholder with a sense of fitness and completeness.
Accent in color may be secured in two ways, either by emphasizing the predominating color by a strong intense note of the same hue or by contrasting a complementary hue with the major color note. Of the two methods the contrasting will give the stronger accent. A change of value will increase the emphasis in both cases. Where the contrasting method is employed, it is not always necessary to use the exact complementary, or greatest possible color contrast, for sufficient accent may be secured without going to such an extreme. It is merely a question of nice adjustment, which will depend largely upon the good taste of the designer.
Since accents are not conducive to unity, in each planting scheme there should be a distinctly larger amount of unifying than accent planting. If this is done, the accents will brighten and tone up the whole, instead of seeming to struggle for superiority. This is where the layman most frequently errs; his planting is a system of color exclamations.
Accents should never appear in filler shrubs, since these are always a unifying element and should not be disturbed; the accent must appear either in the background or in the facer. Where trees to be seen from a distance require accent, it should always be given by a shrub facing. Even though the accent colors differ widely from the rest of the color scheme, it will be of advantage if the dominating color note appears in them to a slight extent. This will insure their perfect amalgamation.
If a planting scheme is on a large scale and divided into distinctly separate parts, it will often be well to allow the accent color in one scheme to predominate in another: it will be a sufficiently different use of color to convey an entirely different impression, and yet it will not necessitate dragging in still other colors, and working out additional schemes of harmonization.
It will be seen, then, that every color scheme should have a predominance of quiet color. There are almost always excellent opportunities for accent, but these should be treated with considerable reticence. A color scheme should be restful rather than stimulating.