Color is a powerful design tool in the garden. Hot colors (red, yellow, orange, fuchsia) grab attention, create excitement and make a plant or object appear closer than it really is. Cool colors (blue, silver, purple, lavender) are soothing and make a plant or object seem farther away than it really is (and also more difficult to see from a distance or in shade). Splashes of white will help create visual focal points in your garden.
When planning your garden, you can use these traits to your advantage. For instance, you can direct the eye towards a focal point by planting hot colors nearby. You can also direct the eye away from an eyesore by placing these same colors at a distance away from it. Be careful not to use too many vibrant colors next to each other as the effect can be so strong, the rest of your garden may be overlooked.
Other tricks can be accomplished by using brighter hues in the back of a garden bed; the garden will feel smaller than it really is. Conversely, cooler hues in back will anchor the rear of your bed and make it feel larger. For gardens mostly admired from a distance, be careful not to use too many dark colored flowers as they will be difficult to see. This is especially true if the flowers are small in size – those varieties are best saved for spots where they can be viewed up close.
Humans aren’t the only ones affected by color. Butterflies are attracted to yellow and purple, while hummingbirds prefer red, fuchsia and orange. Night pollinators like moths delight in white or pale colored flowers such as moonflower (Ipomoea), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), evening scented stock (Matthiola bicornis) and angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). Most of these annual or tropical plants are highly fragrant as well.