Rhythm, Jazz, and the Blues

When we are choosing what I like to call the backbone of the color palette in the garden, I frequently remind my clients that they need to remember to keep a few colors in repetition throughout the entire landscape to visually hold it all together. In other words, you should be able to take a passing glance across a swath of landscape or even a small vignette and your eyes should be able to hit a similar color tone like a musical beat, in regular intervals. This creates a visual rhythm, it can be all kinds of foliage that brings the musicality together, but it can also be art and accessories too.


The ‘Lawson’s’ Cypress above is going to be spectacular in a few years as its columnar structure brings some much-needed verticality to the fat business of the hydrangeas.

I was brainstorming in the garden last night when I suddenly realized how somewhat subconsciously I had used the color blue in my foliage much more than I had really realized. I knew I had tied in the accessories, but although I adore blue foliage, I hadn’t really noticed until just then how prominent it was really becoming in my own landscape. So, I thought I would take you on a little tour of my own private “Blues and Jazz Club” here in the ‘burbs of Seattle.

As we move across my tiny garden, you notice my accessories of a vivid turquoise blue. The umbrella and the obelisk for my container of jasmine are bright and happy even on a cloudy summer day!

Then a small river of watery blues in tumbled glass takes your eye up to one of my beloved pedestal containers where a piece of art glass (by Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens NW) is part of the planted combination where blue is prominent. The chalky blue foliage of the Melianthus is striking!

The lovely thing about blue foliage is that you can use it in shades and tones, just like greens. Some are more silvery and some lean towards more gray-green with just hints of blue.


I think that gardeners really underestimate just how beautiful blueberries can be simply for the foliage! That blue-green foliage has so much personality. And when I can reap the berry-luscious rewards for having them so close to my back door, even better!

The blue foliage and white margins of the Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ are lovely with the lavender Agastache, the deep green of the pine, and more of my glass collection. (Bee Preserver and glass float are from Glass Gardens NW).

I suppose it must stand to reason that I have been using blue conifers as a VERY consistent vertical design element without really considering that I was doing it. I was just picking what I loved, which is the big “do as I say, not as I do” moment for many of my clients, right?
This particular conifer is a favorite of BOTH Karen Chapman and myself as we both have a particular affinity for this ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’). You can read more about Karen Chapman’s use of this plant here in her blog, Le Jardinet.

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