Gerbera Daisy in my garden.
n pl -nies
- Agreement in action, opinion, feeling, etc.; accord
- Order or congruity of parts to their whole or to one another
- A pleasing combination of elements in a whole
So what does it mean to design? Is the definition and reference to music worth exploration? Sure is… but you have to extrapolate a bit.
a. The study of the structure, progression, and relation of chords.
b. Simultaneous combination of notes in a chord.
c. The structure of a work or passage as considered from the point of view of its chordal characteristics and relationships.
d. A combination of sounds considered pleasing to the ear.
By definition, harmony of design creates a sudden positive response in us, where we respond favorably when certain objects or colors are joined or blended. Do you break out in a smile when certain colors adjoin? I bet you do! Certain color combinations evoke mood and when they play well with one another, they play well with you too!
Dahlia in my garden.
Art and architecture teaches us that an underlying premise of harmony is a sense of connection, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, a sense of order where the elements combine in a very pleasing way. Music patterns us to lines, progressions, repetition and rhythms. Family is a form of harmony in the best possible way of connection and relationship; the whole being the primary focus.
Simply, you cannot throw just any random elements together and expect to get harmony. Harmony generally has inherent design, a purposeful combination of elements, just like architecture, music and art.
This post is not necessarily about harmonious color theory or references to other creative disciplines. It is more a design exercise that makes one aware, simply, of the transition, like planting partners in the garden as it relates to those of us gardening. It is an exercise that makes you notice and ‘see’ in greater awareness in photography as well. The exercise is one that helps you instinctively start to relate to color. See a relationship below? They mingle pretty well.
The color juxtaposition in this post are what would be found on any computer if color picking is set to grid, rather than wheel. The photos are in just about any garden, although, most are in mine. The images below were shot only a few weeks ago.
Harmony is a co-existence of elements where none are prominent or the sole focus of the composition. It is an arrangement of similar elements where the elements provide a sense of unity. Using principles of design, like pattern, lines, rhythm, textures, and shapes, you can create a harmony. There can be spacial harmony as well, like the use of negative space. This can calm a space and give it repose. It can be color harmony in design like shown in this post.
Find these colors in your garden and see if they harmonize. I bet they do. The color wheel is great to find harmonious colors, but this is a deeper and more profound harmony relationship, because other design criteria weighs in.
My garden above, Caryopteris and Cleome Senorita Rosalita.
The softness in texture of neighboring plants can be used to create harmony. The colors are approximately the same depth of hue (pureness of color), yet one is cool and one is warm. See how straight color theory using a color wheel can limit?
Chanticleer potted Foxgloves, see the gradual change of tint? I had to add these even though this was a scheduled post. Seems fitting since you might want some big garden shots.
This exercise is based on a photography assignment that I had in college. We were each handed an envelope which held a 4” x 4” paint chip and were instructed to go out and photograph objects of that color. It made us aware of how light affected the color of the object, and how accurate we were in attaining the color on the paint swatch.
I expanded this a bit to adapt to gardening and landscaping, taking four neighboring colors in a square from a color picker.
This is not so easy, but it is fun. Matching color with natural elements compounded by natural daylight is never going to be exact. But what you notice in a natural landscape is that the object is always made up of many colors. This is a bit of the point of the four squares too. The best images, even of a single flower, would span the example by having shades of each.
Chanticleer Pond, shades of blue and purple, greens and yellow greens. I love this view, but the bright morning sun is a scene killer. So wish I could have gotten late day images, but I was off to the Scott Arboretum after this. I was in this garden an hour before they opened too. As an architect, I was allowed in for free. Now how cool is that.
What you notice from a single flower is how many colors and tones that you really find. This can give a hint to the color family to which it belongs.
Verbena and Petunia in my garden.
Some natural colors are more vibrant than what we artificially create! Paired with red this hot pink is not quite as hot.
Impatiens and Monarda in my garden.
Is this really pink or purple with a hint of blue or a hint of red? You can determine that by looking at the four colored panel below. This can tell you with what it pairs most amicably, what it leans toward.
Learning color undertones is not discussed in this post, but at least you might be aware when you look at plant pairs in the garden. Maybe that would make a great W4W in the future, finding color undertones.
Lots of things in the garden add color and swimming Koi are a pretty harmonious and calming element.
Pretty weed at the Farm.
A field of wild flowers in harmonious color is relaxing.
By picking colors that are similar, where no one element stands out, you can create harmony. The top left image of the Rudbeckia Goldstrum is not a harmonious grouping below with the reds and blues, but the wild flowers to the right seem to be. It is a more relaxing combination, textually and colorwise. The images were selected for the their color similarity to the four-squares above.
You can design in this manner too, creating almost monochromatic gardens. You will have basically the same color, just variation on tint and shade. This is a great time to understand color undertones. If you do, the plants will harmoniously blend. Then you might pick up those harmonious colors on the color wheel. The gradation in design becomes like garden art. A painting with life.
This image above is an example of how light plays into the exercise. The trumpet vine flowers almost cover the four warm colors below. The shades all play along harmoniously, orange blending into yellow.
Again, we have soft and lightly textured plants lending harmony. They are all about the same height as well. Harmony can have a degree of sameness. This image seems to evoke the whole being greater than the parts, even though it does have a distinct subject, it does not seem to me to command all the attention.
The image itself says harmony, partially because the image is centered (not necessarily recommended unless the subject matter calls for centering), equally weighted and balanced; and partly because the image is selectively blurred. The image has a calm and tranquil feel to it.
The flowers below are attention grabbers, except when they are positioned in relation to each other, then they form the whole. These do not bloom simultaneously, but other flowers and foliage can be combined to give a greater whole composition in the season of each.
Have some fun and see if you too can create harmony. Or take a whole different approach.
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I just wanted to say hi to all the readers who did not get to meet me in Asheville. We all were discussing how it is nice to know those of us blogging, but I was reluctant to post my photo online, but having my trusty Mac Book Pro along for the ride, equipped with the app Photo Booth, I snapped me in my hotel room in PA. So now you know who is behind the blog GWGT, and I am very appreciative to all my readers for their continued support.
Flinging For Friday coming up, starting with a few big garden pics. I visited four PA gardens not on the Fling, so check on back.