Brightly painted trim and porch furniture make a shed an attractive destination.
Photo/Illustration: Virginia Small
Each fall, after I put my garden to bed for the winter, I take a break in Mexico, where intense, vivid colors electrify almost everything. Seeing houses painted orange, turquoise, and fuchsia or viewing lush, green jungles shimmering under a cobalt sky inspires me to think about color in new ways. Several years ago, while sitting in a Technicolor café where every chair and table was painted a different, eye-popping hue, I realized that this playful use of color could work well in my garden. I’m always striving for bold, dramatic colors in my plantings, and the use of paint, I decided, could elevate my designs to a new level. With a few strokes of a brush, I could add a splash of color, create an instant centerpiece, or round out the palette anywhere in my garden. I knew that using color from a can would provide long-lasting effects, adding zip to the garden all year long.
I started on this path gradually, initially placing colorful containers and watering cans within my plantings. Then I upped the ante by taking a brush or spray can to some of my garden furniture. Emboldened by the results, I started painting larger areas: trellises, fences, tuteurs, and even parts of my house. And I’m glad I did. For a minimal amount of expense and effort, the extra vitality of all that color breathes life into my garden during winter’s gloom, adds oomph in spring, and enhances summer’s beauty. In fall, it makes a wonderful foil for changing foliage.