Different strokes

Memories of Morocco inspire a bold palette

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Different strokes

Grassy Carex morrowii expallida 'Aurea-variegata' fringes the foreground and spills from pots behind. Around the greenhouse, bronze-red canna, 'Ultra Blue' petunias, calibrachoa, loropetalum, and a crimson patio table add splashes of color.

Saxon Holt

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  • Different strokes

    A cobalt blue wall backs a chartreuse-leafed hosta and amethyst flower (Browallia).

Entering Diana Stratton's garden in Healdsburg, California, is like stepping into an artist's canvas. Every inch of the garden designer's shady hillside retreat is a visual feast.

The garden's bold, bright palette grew out of Stratton's childhood memories of living in Morocco. At her home in Healdsburg, she opted for a similarly striking look. Now the once-white greenhouse is painted cobalt blue and trimmed with chartreuse; red and salmon pink roses grow beside it for vivid contrast. A lush assortment of flowers and foliage surrounds them.

Design: Diana Stratton, Diana Stratton Design, Healdsburg, CA (707/433-2582)


Use paint chips to select a palette, or take your design cues from a favorite object (such as a bowl) whose colors appeal to you. Then choose flowers, paint, and furnishings that mirror those colors.

Use high-energy colors such as red and orange sparingly, soothing colors such as green and purple more extensively.

Choose different tones of the same color ― lime green, forest green, and apple green, for instance ― and use them throughout the garden.

Scatter vivid furnishings, flowers, and pots around the garden as focal points.

Paint a wall, trellis, shed, or bench in one or more of your favorite bright colors. You can always repaint if you don't like it.

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