Warm and Cool Together; Finding Balance in the Garden with the Color of the Year

For 2016, the Pantone Color Institute made waves for selecting not one but two colors, for the first time ever, as their Color of The Year. Both  Rose Quartz, a warm pink, and Serenity, a soft blue, were chosen this year and Pantones Leatrice Eiseman explained that together these colors create  “an inherent balance…reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”


joy pink rose quartz serenity forget me not blue 2016 colors

Inspired by the colors Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue. (photo Joy Albright-Souza)


This may have been big news in the fashion world, where the chosen colors are seen as symbolic and “an expression of our cultures mood and attitude”. But of course colors in combination are the bread and butter of the garden.  Nature creates blends and gradations naturally and pure hues are actually pretty rare. So let’s explore how these trending colors come together in the garden.


pink and blue succulent ruffled


Rose Quartz (Pantone 13-1520) is described as “a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Like a serene sunset, flushed cheek or budding flower, Rose Quartz reminds us to reflect on our surroundings “


magnolia blossoms SF


In nature, pink is a promise. It’s the color of the pulse of life barely-buried beneath warm skin. It’s the color of a flower bud as the sap rises up and pushes out the certainty of spring. A warm pink tone is deeply-seated in our consciousness as the light the sky gives us at both ends of the day.


dusk at Suisun Marsh


Serenity (Pantone 15-3919) is described as  “…a transcendent blue….Serenity comforts with a calming effect, bringing a feeling of respite….weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us.” That also describes the ideal effect of our gardens. A place “of respite” is part of the pleasure of creating a garden, or any spot where nature’s gifts can be enjoyed for a moment in time.


ceanothus gloriosus


Blue, while somewhat uncommon in flowers, is still the color of Forget-me-nots and Speedwells and Ceanothus and Bluebells. It is the color of berries and butterflies and the Bluejays that plant our oak trees. It is of course the color of the sky itself.


magnolia blossoms SF Bot


The soothing blue of nature, can be repeated and enhanced by creating opportunity for reflections in both the physical sense and the spiritual sense. While ponds and fountains can reflect the sky in spectacular ways, the simple placement of any vessel of water can create a moment of magic when the light of the sky bounces back to us. It is the eternal pleasure of seeing the clouds in a puddle of rain.


camellia with raindrops


It’s lovely to see the recognition of the reality of colors in combination with each other. To join the cool and the warm, in a strange dichotomy that is really life itself. Nature is both the hope of the flower and the timelessness of the sky. It is the piece and the whole. It is in the joining of these elements that we get our sense of well-being.


Bubbling fountain with blue fescue


It is the incomprehensible vastness of the sky brought down to a small and soothing moment by being captured in the reflection of a drop of dew.   – mind boggling and yet reassuring all at the same time.


Ceanothus Skylark


~~~When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~~~Buddha


More inspiration on the blues of California Ceanothus here

The background story on the blue fountain design above here



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Categories: Garden Inspiration


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4 Comments on “Warm and Cool Together; Finding Balance in the Garden with the Color of the Year”

  1. January 28, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Lovely article Joy. The images are beautiful and create such a peaceful feeling.

  2. January 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    One of my favorite garden blues: Cape Plumbago. Serenity is such a perfect name for this shade. Thank you for the article!

  3. February 2, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    Ceonothus trapped me first, then the pantone bit, then your photos and text–thank you for all.

  4. February 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Your compliments are so kind. Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment.

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