Marion Brenner

A simple palette enlivens a dark corner in northern California

Julie Chai,  –  January 18, 2006

Keep the color scheme basic: That’s the easiest way to create impact in your garden. The planting pictured at left displays various leaf textures and shapes, but relies on just two hues ― lime green and red ― for a cohesive look.

Landscape designer Freeland Tanner chose the palette when he transformed a shady, neglected corner of Shelly and Bill Coglizer’s Lafayette, CA garden into an enticing destination. He first combined plants with textures and forms that play off one another. Broad-leafed hosta (D) stands out against tuliplike peony foliage (B), billowy Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae blooms (C), and finer-textured plants such as thin-bladed Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (F) and serrated artemisia (E).

Then Tanner employed plants to create color echoes. Yellow edges of the blue-green hosta echo chartreuse Hakonechloa, gold and green artemisia, and lime-colored euphorbia blooms.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Fernspray Gold’ (H) echoes the greens in the background, while ruby clematis (A) and burgundy ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple (G) are striking accents.

“Choosing a specific color and repeating that color in flower or foliage links a garden together,” Tanner says.

Design: Freeland and Sabrina Tanner, Proscape Landscape Design, Yountville, CA (707/226-2540)