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Colour Psychology in Gardens

11 November 2021

Gardens bring a plethora of benefits to the people tending to them and those who enjoy sitting and relaxing in them.

colour in gardens

Gardening provides opportunities to remain physically active, still the mind and get away from the busyness of life, with increasing evidence emerging that it helps ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. And the benefits aren’t just confined to those who garden – a growing body of research has uncovered evidence that being in green, or being able to look out on to a green landscape, is linked to faster recovery from surgery, reduced anxiety and depression, better stress management and increased concentration levels.

So how best to plan the colour selection and design of your garden? The ancient practice of chromotherapy – dating back 2,000 years to civilisations across Egypt, Greece, China and India – believed in the use of colour as a holistic therapy and that exposing people to certain colours could improve wellbeing. In a contemporary setting, marketers draw on the psychology of colour to impact people’s behaviour and decisions, restaurateurs use it to create a particular mood and interior designers use it to harness a certain feel in office spaces and homes.

Depending on which colours you choose, you can evoke a particular sentiment in your garden. Evidence has emerged that colours can affect our minds in different ways, creating optical illusions of heaviness or weightlessness, warmth or cold. A research paper published this year in the Wellbeing, Space & Society journal revealed that people prefer colourful flowers and radially symmetrical flowers, and found autumn foliage restorative and landscapes with a high degree of vegetation visually pleasing. But even if there are universal preferences for certain colours, cultural, gender and age differences in how colours are perceived have to be kept in mind. For instance, the ageing eye starts to perceive the world more in blue.

Green is the dominant colour of nature and it’s one of the most beneficial for our mental health. According to the same research paper: “Viewing static images of green spaces has a beneficial impact on psychological restoration (i.e. the recovery of depleted cognitive resources) through improved attentional capacity and stress reduction.” Green evokes feelings of peace, rest and security. Lighter greens are more associated with freshness, while darker greens are closely related to stability and growth.

Drawing on the soft creams, blushes and whites of sweet peas, Japanese honeysuckle, peonies and cream-coloured roses can help relax the mind and help you find clarity. Soft pastels like the baby pink of cosmos, the powder blue of morning glories and the pale yellow of yarrow convey warm and gentle feelings of contentment.

The cool blues and subtle purples of lavender, lilacs, blue clematis and salvia are easy on the eye and the soul. Purple trees, interestingly, received either neutral or negative ratings in a survey conducted because respondents didn’t think the purple looked real in a tree.

Rich, bold and vibrant colours such as the luscious reds and fiery oranges of moss roses, zinnias and daylilies evoke feelings of playfulness, creativity and vigour. A garden like this would leave you feeling energised and upbeat. Apart from the universal popularity of green, a survey showed that red was the most popular colour because while green represented a healthy tree with good nutritional qualities, red was thought to symbolise a tree full of ripened fruit. Conversely, orange-brown coloured trees were rated negatively because survey respondents thought it was an indication of a nutrient-deficient tree.

The shifting seasons are also an important consideration. Most gardeners planning for spring look for uplifting bursts of colour in flowers such as yellow daffodils after a cold and dreary winter, for instance. And in terms of planting aesthetics and style, evidence suggests that natural-looking, informal gardens have an increased benefit over formal gardens.

Cultivating plant and horticulture knowledge is hugely important, especially in commercial settings, where the benefits colour and bloom can be leveraged throughout the year to achieve grounds and gardens that are aesthetically pleasing and accessible. Well-designed landscapes are important contributors to operational outcomes. They showcase your property, much like a well-chosen frame enhances a painting and plant selection is crucial to ensure they are appropriate for your site and climate. While you set about maximising the aesthetic appearance of your garden, it’s equally important to minimise maintenance requirements, and safety hazards.

Programmed is passionate about horticulture and has the expertise to help you reap the most from your investment in commercial landscapes, so you have great looking grounds, no matter their size. Explore your options and speak to Programmed today.

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