You may have learned that too much color or too many blooms leads to chaos.
I personally like a lot of color and bloom, but it really is a hard garden design to pull off. We visited a garden during our garden fling where the gardener collected plants and used color with abandon. Strong reds and yellows contrasted and looked heavy in the noonday light.
This type of garden is very hard to photograph in harsh daylight and in no way can it be shown to its potential unless visited in very early morning or very late afternoon. This garden was unique and rather beautiful, but would have been more so at those periods of the day. The bright, strong sun hampered what could have been a more rewarding experience.
You can make a vastly varied collection of plants have cohesiveness by creating specialty gardens within the overall garden. This gardener did that so well.
She had a collection of dwarf conifers and succulent plants using a design principle of grouping compatible and like plants. Her plant partnering included using harmonious colors in groupings in many areas of her gardens. Confusion, contrast and competing colors equals chaos if not handled with care. She made the effort to avoid the chaos trap that others may create using such strong elements and color.
I personally find using a softer variety of colors can be easier on the eye, but a repeating strong color adds visual excitement and a feeling of energy to the scene. Too much and it over-stimulates the viewer.
In my own colorful garden I have one consistent color throughout the growing season – blue, and lots of it. I limit certain strong colors to certain seasons and beds of the garden. My garden is following this post. I explain how I cram in the plants and keep them healthy. I also talk about using a lot of color and how to tame it down.
General Design Principles for Using Many Colors
Advice on having a garden with excessive color, texture and plant height would be to limit the color palette or type of plant. Create garden rooms where the transition is subtle and each area is identifiable. Hedges are instrumental in taming the vibrancy of bloom. It is why you see so many public gardens having billowing garden beds backed by large hedges or contained by small boxwood. The green organizes and gives the eye a way to take in and organize all that color. The hedges also aid in creating and dividing garden rooms.
Use foliage to unify the garden with shades of green. It helps make a place for the eye to rest. Sections of lawn can serve as circulation and create visual separation. My own garden has turf and hedges to temper the colorful palette.
I use neutrals like white or gray to break the color from bed to bed, and use repetition to unify. A healthy garden is a must in a chaotic garden of color and texture. While plants were well maintained, some of the conifers had unattractive browning in the garden we visited. It was the only visual distraction worth a mention.
Like I said, this garden was almost impossible to photograph in a pleasing manner by no fault of its own. I would have loved to go back when the sun was about to set. I am sure it would have been seen in a whole new light. You can tell by the photographs, the more pleasing vignettes are seen in shaded conditions. Imagine this garden under a clouded sky. It would shine even brighter.
More on Fling gardens coming up. I looked through my images and oddly found some of the most interesting spaces had the least easily recognizable design. Some had character and ambiance in spades. The down home feel of comfort and the relaxation of island living was in the post Ward Island Gardens. It is a great example of spaces created of organic garden design. They grew and grew around the architecture of the cottages.