Anyone who has tried to keep a garden alive in the midst of a drought learns to detest the color brown. People don’t want their plants to be brown – it’s the sign of an unhealthy plant, one that is dying. Can brown be good though? Obviously if a plant is meant to have another color, then brown is bad. What if that plant was designed to be brown? Can brown actually have a healthy look in a garden?
Why does the color of a garden even matter? Non-gardening types may wonder why gardeners put so much effort into picking out what colors, patterns, heights and a myriad of other factors are used in a garden. But a gardener knows that her garden is an extension of herself. When a gardener plants a flower, that flower represents something – whether in color or in style. The gardener may plant yellow for her happy days and red for the romantic ones. Brown is a transitional color – the color of fall. It’s a backdrop and an accent that can give a solid accent to a brilliant landscape.
The color of emotion is not such a strange concept. For years, psychologists have studied the effects of colors on the human psyche. Blue is a color of tranquility. That’s why many doctor’s offices have it on their walls – to calm nervous patients. Green is a color of growth. A nurturing personality will often times wear green, whether consciously or subconsciously. Colors both reflect our current emotions and elicit certain emotions from us. In this case, browns are the transition stage.
Many people focus on the brightly colored flowers – the reds, yellows, and oranges, but they overlook what a simple brown accent can do for the garden. The next time you go to the greenhouse to pick out flowers for your garden, take a moment and look at the brown plants. There are plenty of ornamental grasses that come in brown. By providing a different color and texture, you bring a living quality to your garden.
There are also several plants that have various shades of brown in them. These work great as a transitional color or on the fringes of the garden. There are varieties of pansies, columbines, and others that have this brownish color. When used properly, they don’t reflect the end of the season as much as they do a transition. Brown can be a beautiful addition to the garden, helping the entire landscape seem to jump to life.
Gardeners put massive amounts of time, effort, and money into their gardens. Just as the color and style of a house reflects the owner, so does a garden. By mixing brown in with a variety of other colors, the gardener shows himself to have depth of character. The use of brown in a garden can bring it to life and make it real – helping to accent the beauty of the other flowers. Don’t be afraid of the transitional brown. It’s all a part of the growth process.