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Designing With the Ultimate Color Contrast

Balance the darkest of the dark with the lightest of the light to help an average bed jump to life

Fine Gardening - Issue 141
A garden based on color contrasts is always interesting. It doesn’t matter what season it is, how mature the plants are, or even what’s in bloom—pair two plants that are opposites on the color wheel and excite­ment ensues. Once I fully grasped this concept, I wondered what would happen if I designed a space using the ultimate in color contrasts: black and white. My answer came quickly: Magic. I quickly found that using this striking color combination helped turn a boring space into an eye-catching expanse. Black and white plants offer the highest level of contrast. Here, the pairing of panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata cv., Zones 3–8) and black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–11) makes a stunning combination. Combining such extreme opposites can be tricky—you can’t just throw a bunch of black and white plants together and expect it to be interesting. My approach involved selecting plants that…

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