March 16 2012 12:17 AM
To make your design stand out, consider using exotic annuals like spider flower, gazania, vinca or lisianthus. Or native annuals for a rich and vibrant palette of color, like the northern blazing star, orange milkweed or Indian paintbrush. Black-eyed Susan is one of the most- used native annuals, a wildflower found nearly everywhere, especially in the Midwest (also in Canada). And it happens to be the Maryland state flower.

Some landscape contractors are looking for low-maintenance annuals. “In using natives, there’s a whole palette that people haven’t tapped into yet,” Delong-Amaya says, “with interesting colors, forms and textures.”

Always keep in mind to select a well-adapted variety appropriate for the soil, shade conditions, and climate of the project’s geographical lo- cation, whether it is an exotic ornamental or native species. Soil, shade and climate conditions are the most critical elements for success with any seasonal color in a given land- scape. “If I want splashy color, if I want to create excitement, I’m going to put together opposites. Light and dark,” explained Kellee Adams of Dig-it Landscape, San Rafael, California. “I think in opposite colors. When I put red next to green, the green is greener and the red is redder. I’m looking for contrast when I want to make something exciting to the eye. If I want calm, I would put together colors that blend—greens, blues, blue-greens, greengrays. Those are relaxed, softer colors.”

If your customer likes a vivid color or complementary scheme, try marigolds, salvia, snapdragons or celosia. For subtler tones, select analogous colors, like the blues and violets of pansies, ageratums or lobelias, for a cooler more tranquil effect.

Think about shades of the same color. “I like all white gardens, all blue gardens. There’s no end to what you can do if you let your imagination spark all sorts of possibilities,” says Meadowbrook, who also keeps in mind the microclimate of each project, whether it is a meadow garden, a woodland garden or a chaparral garden.

“People want an artful garden,” Meadowbrook adds. “They want a beautiful garden that is taking care of Mother Earth, and is taking care of their quest for color. You can have both.”

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