December 22nd, 2009
Colour therapy is one of a range of complementary treatments gaining in popularity these days and, like many of them, it has in fact been around for thousands of years.
In Europe, colour was an important part of the doctrine of the Four Humours which was a cornerstone of medicine until the Renaissance. Each humour had its own colour. Phlegmatic was white, melancholy yellow, choleric black, sanguine red, and practitioners diagnosed imbalances in the humours by the colour of the complexion, the tongue and of body waste. Today colour therapy is a holistic treatment, like many complementary therapies, treating the whole person physically, mentally and emotionally.
Of course, you can use colour therapeutically in your garden, and while any colour you choose will be diluted by other colours, the one you choose as the main colour can stimulate or relax you, and generally enhance your feeling of well-being.
Red, for example, is the colour of energy, of love and passion, it is a stimulant. Orange is the colour of joy, of movement, and activity in general. Yellow, another warm colour, is optimistic and stimulating, but this time to the intellect. It helps concentration and the absorption of information. Green is the most balanced colour in the spectrum. Green is the colour of new life in the plant world and so has become a symbol of renewal and hope. It is also an optimistic colour, but peaceful and calming too, which makes it an ideal colour for relaxation and contemplation. As a balanced colour, it encourages balance in us. It counteracts stress, and is an ideal colour for gardens since it is by far the most dominant colour in the plant world. It is a calming colour which can be spiced up with the addition of red or made cool with touches of white
If you decide you want to use colour in a more controlled way in your own garden, you might find it helpful to do an analysis of the way it looks now. Are you happy with the way it looks? What about your containers? Are they a mixed collection of materials and colours? Painting them all the same colour will add unity to the overall look. Are there hot colours like red at the far end of the garden? Try moving them closer to the house and replacing them with blues and greys to make the space appear larger. Look at the garden at different times of the day. See where the sun falls at different times, and how the changing light afffects the colour. Look at the garden through the seasons too, this is where your garden diary can be a wonderful tool. But at the end of the day, use colour to please yourself and enjoy the colours of your garden.