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Outdoor art offers creative ways to colorize garden

Photo By: Photos Courtesy of Astrid Gaiser
Photo Photos Courtesy Of Astrid Gaiser

Paintings, above, and daybeds, below, are ideal ways to integrate year-round pops of color in the garden.

As a landscape designer, color in the garden is a big topic with clients. Year-round color? Yes, please. Bold? Absolutely.

In these cases, foliage color was and is always a good choice, especially if it is not deciduous. While flowers only bloom a couple of weeks or sometimes months, foliage provides enjoyment all year long. A Cordyline ‘Jurred’ will reward the garden owner with stunning red, while succulents add all shades of blues, purples, greens and pinks to the mix. Try a blue Echeveria under an orange tree – it’s a must-have from the color wheel.

And while the foliage color solution remains the basic fallback, we encountered so many courageous and adventurous clients over the years that we were allowed to explore totally different paths.

We added colorful glazed pottery to gardens, not only as containers for planting, but also as balls large enough to sit on or smaller ones embedded into the landscape. Together with some colorful wind toys, they introduce fun and movement to every garden.

Children’s play areas became a visual delight for the adults as well as the youngsters. Instead of a commercial play structure, we added brightly colored tire swings and monkey bars to arbors. That turned a standard landscape feature into a special place for children. Colorful curtain panels surrounded the areas, allowing children to close them or use the arbor area as a stage.

In years to follow, we got bolder and bolder. More colorful fabrics became available, and we created retreat areas, complete with daybeds bursting with color and outdoor living rooms brightened with red, light-blue or apple-green upholstery. We repeated or enhanced the colors by contrasting them in plants, containers, pillows, blankets and accessories.

Stunning purple, red or aqua walls provided an accent in the garden and a backdrop for foliage. This included the walls of the neighbor’s garage. (We asked beforehand, in case you wondered.) Our paint frenzy included garden sheds and studios as well as stucco walls and fences.

The availability of shade sails in colors other than beige gave us a real color breakthrough. It’s amazing how much of an impact a bright overhead projects. Combined with the innovative, large plastic containers, lit from the inside, we created an entire garden based on a gray-aqua-apple-green palette.

The latest endeavor is real art for the outside. We contracted with a local artist who permits us to create a limited number of enlarged reproductions of his paintings. The results, which measure approximately 4-feet-by-5-feet, are printed on the same medium as street signs, leaving them protected from the sun and rain for years. The reproductions are made in the Bay Area, contributing to our local businesses. The stunning centerpieces provide color, beauty and an artistic air to gardens.

Astrid Gaiser is a landscape designer, horticulturist and member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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