How to colour your mood

Yellow Sunflowers in bloom

Yellow Sunflowers in bloom - Credit: PA Photo/thinkstockphoto

A spiral of colour is the theme top designer Tom Massey has taken on in his latest show garden which displays the way gardens can enhance your mood and help your wellbeing.

Vegetables in a greenhouse

Vegetables in a greenhouse - Credit: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

Research shows the therapeutic value and feeling of wellbeing that people get from gardening, according to Thrive, the charity that uses gardening to help people living with disabilities or ill health, or are vulnerable or isolated. But colour can also make an impact.

Massey, 31, was inspired by zen gardens and Japanese designs to come up with his Perennial Sanctuary Garden - to be shown at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in July - and has done much research on how the colour and form of plants can change your mood.

At the outer edge of his showpiece, the vibrant red colours represent the inner chaos that can come from being at crisis point. As the visitor takes the journey into the garden following a winding gravel path, sounds from outside the garden fade.

The planting becomes taller and more immersive and the colour scheme moves through stimulating yellows and oranges to more restful purples, blues and finally, pure green.

Towards the middle of the design the planting is simplified, leading to a calm sanctuary at the centre of the garden. Here the planting changes to a single species of towering bamboo that screens the outside world, creating a safe haven and place for peaceful reflection, hidden from view.

But you don’t have to create a show garden to generate a positive atmosphere in your outside space. The use of a particular palette to generate a mood can be replicated in many gardens, Massey explains.

Most Read

“Red is a very stimulating colour - it’s eye-catching, it can mean passion, danger and warning, but ultimately it’s an exciting colour,” says Massey, who uses Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’, Crocosmia ‘Hellfire’ and Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ to energise and uplift in his own show garden. “Red comes to the fore if you want a vibrant bed.”

Orange hues spark enthusiasm, fascination, happiness and creativity, combining the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. If you prefer an orange palette, you might try Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’ and Kniphofia uvaria ‘Nobilis’.

Yellow is the colour of sunshine, associated with joy, happiness and intellect and produces a warming effect, arousing cheerfulness and stimulating mental activity, says Massey. It’s an optimistic, positive colour and plants in this band include Helianthus annuus and Inula helenium.

Purple is associated with wisdom and dignity. Plants in this band include Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ and Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’. Lilac and lavender shades also have a restful quality.

Blue is often associated with depth and stability, symbolising trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence and calm. Plants in this band include Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’.

Bright colours tend to look more vibrant in sunny settings, while blue and green palettes can flourish in semi-shaded areas, creating a cool, calm atmosphere.

At the centre of Massey’s garden, is the screen of towering bamboo. The colour palette is pure green, the colour of nature, representing growth, harmony, freshness, stability and endurance. Green has healing power, it is the most restful colour for the human eye and it has strong emotional correspondence with safety and sanctuary.

“Different forms and textures can be visually exciting and stimulating, but if you have one single species it can create a calming, restful environment.”

:: The Perennial Sanctuary Garden will be shown at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show from July 3-9.