Have you ever surveyed your garden with a critical eye and lamented that your garden has no cohesiveness and is merely a hodge-podge of wildly colorful plants? If so, then you might want to consider a monochromatic gardening style versus a skittle (all colors of the rainbow) type of garden. Monochromatic gardening can be fun, especially if you feel very strongly about your favorite color. On the other hand, if not carefully planned, it can be kind of boring. There are many cons of monochromatic gardening too, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t experiment a little. Just keep it to one bed or container so you can see what the impact is really like before you jump in.
Monochromatic Gardening Pros
(Shelley’s viewpoint) You may be giving up the skittles, but a monochromatic garden will still be eye candy. Read on to discover reasons for monochromatic garden designs.
It’s not boring. When some people hear the term “monochromatic gardening,” they think that all the plants are one identical color and deem that rather uninteresting. If that were true, then I’d agree it was boring, but this is a misconception. In a monochromatic garden, your color opportunities are much more because you are working with a palette featuring shades and tones of one specific color, and you are incorporating plants of varying shapes, textures and sizes. For instance, a purple monochromatic garden would have hues of violet, mauve, periwinkle, deep reddish purple, and purplish black. It could feature lavender plants, purple smoke bush, purple flowering Buddleia and lilac trees, just to name a few. As you can see, a monochromatic garden has the potential to be visually compelling with a lot of variety and contrast.
You can’t go wrong. Over time we have a tendency to add plants that we fancy to our garden with no thought given to design and then one day we realize our grievous error. If you adopt a monochromatic gardening style, this will never happen to you. Monochromatic gardens are harmonious gardens because all the colors on your palette are guaranteed to work together.
Decision making is easier. I don’t know about you, but I agonize over plant selections due to the overwhelming amount of choices available. When choosing plants for a monochromatic garden, your selection of plants is narrowed down because you are no longer choosing from the entire rainbow. This does make it somewhat easier for undecisive folks like me. However, it’s still not going to be a total cake walk because…
You still have a lot of choices. Gardeners love choices and they love daydreaming through stacks of seed and plant catalogs, ogling plants online and admiring plants at their local lawn and garden store. You may be concerned that a monochromatic garden will be a killjoy in the sense that it will only offer you a few hardiness zone appropriate choices and that you will end up missing your former more free-reigning gardening style. Rest assured, as you begin shopping for your monochromatic garden, you will discover that you will have more than enough options to choose from.
It’s a garden problem solver. Certain monochromatic garden color schemes, such as blue, green and violet, can make a small garden space seem larger and more open. A monochromatic garden can also help a garden steeped in shade. With whites or light pastel shades, you can make that shady space seem much brighter. Monochromatic gardens can also convey a feeling you are aiming for. Serenity and calmness are associated with blues and greens and violets. A feeling of excitement will be elicited by reds, oranges or yellows.
Cons of Monochromatic Gardening
(Mary Ellen’s viewpoint) Gardening in just one color is a trendy move in modern landscape design, but traditionalists know better. Limiting nature to one color is a crime. It’s boring, limiting, and emotionless. Here are some real drawbacks of monochromatic gardening.
Lack of impact. Monochrome gardening has the potential to make a big impact, but really only if you limit it to one bed. If your entire garden or yard is one color, it’s bound to look boring. There will be nothing special, even if you really focus on variation in shape and texture.
No depth or contrast. One of the big drawbacks of monochromatic gardens is that they look flat. No matter how hard you try to work on shape and texture within one color, it’s going to come up flat. All green, even if it includes grass, hills, and shrubs of various sizes is still going to look flat and dimensionless.
Limited plant choices. If you insist on sticking with just one color, a big drawback is that you will be extremely limited in your choices. This becomes a special challenge if you have conditions that also limit your options, like a lot of shade. You may find yourself cutting out 90 percent of the seed catalog or local nursery, and that’s not fun.
It’s not natural. Look at a green, cultivated lawn compared to a flowering meadow. The difference is that nature is varied, and much more beautiful. Unless you want a sterile, unnatural-looking garden, mix those colors.
Monochromatic Garden Design Flaws vs. Positives
Monochromatic garden design flaws are potentially numerous. That said, this strategy can work, but it’s not easy. You run the risk of having too few plants to choose from and ending up with a boring, unnatural-looking, flat space. Why go boring? Spice up your yard by not being afraid of color. All the colors of nature go together, so you can’t go wrong by mixing it up. Then again, monochromatic gardens can be just as visually appealing as their all-colors-of-the-rainbow counterparts with careful planning. They are more fool-proof, easier to shop for, and have the potential to resolve garden dilemmas – these are just some of the monochromatic garden benefits to consider. And, also, keep in mind that a monochromatic garden design doesn’t have to consume your entire gardening space. You can do just a small section or experiment with it in a container planting.