Colour Schemes

Chelsea Blues


Meconopsis Lingholm – Kevock Garden Plants

I spent a wonderful Patsy Smiles kind of day at RHS Chelsea flower Show last week. I went with the flow and missed most of the Show Gardens and avoided pretentious conversation. If the concept behind a garden design needs to be explained then it just doesn’t work for me. Nevertheless I came home full of inspiration. It’s the little details that caught my eye rather than the big picture. 

My favourite Chelsea blooms this year were the azure blue of Meconopsis Lingholm on the Kevock Garden plant stand. I’ve never seen a blue poppy before so was fascinated by these beauties. Turquoise blue is a bit like marmite as it is such a vibrant, zingy colour. I love the colour and chose to use it in my branding. For me turquoise represents the sea and happy sunny holidays. I spent some time on the Kevock stand admiring the gorgeous colour palette. I realised that there had been some very deliberate planting of colour combinations. I chose to use turquoise blue, lime green and coral in my branding.

The coral of the Primula japonica Apple Blossom made the blue more noticeable as blue and orange are complementary colours.

Complementary Colours are colours that are opposite to each other on the colour wheel. When used together they stand out and create contrast. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green.

Colour Wheel

In part of the display I spotted a Triadic Colour Scheme with the blue Meconopsis, coral Primula japonica Apple blossom and yellow Trollius.  By adding yellow into the mix and combining with the blue and coral  Kevock created a visually appealing Triadic Colour Scheme. This scheme is made up of 3 colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. The best way to create this colour harmony is to choose one colour to dominate with less of a second and a touch of the third or a mix of tints, tones and shades.

The Alpine Garden Society also had a fantastic display of Meconopsis and launched a new lavishly illustrated book at RHS Chelsea. `Meconopsis for Gardeners. The lure of the Blue Poppy.’

I opted for a couple of books which I will find more useful. Having chatted to the friendly exhibitors on the Kevock stand I realised that meconopsis will not grow well in our garden. Much more useful for me to buy a couple of wildflower Field Guides.  The Harrap’s guide has good photographs and the other book will be invalauble for Mediterranean holidays.

Other than the poppies I was rather taken with a plant called Anchusa azurea Lodden Royalist. It is rather similar to the wildflower bugloss I have spotted in the countryside, but with a bit more drama. A lot of designers chose to use this plant to create a wild, natural effect.

I saw quite a few examples of Anchusa used as a backdrop to make orange flowers stand out,  as can be seen here with the orange of the Oenothera versicolor ‘Sunset Boulevard’ against the blue.

I made a note of these little gems too. Omphalodes cappadocica ‘cherry ingram’ reminds me of tiny Speedwell wildflowers I have seen recently. I thought the blue flowers looked very pretty in a shady, woodland spot

I was attracted to the lemon yellow and blue colour combinations in this display. I might not be able to grow Meconopsis in our garden as they are quite tricky to grow. However I come home full of inspiration to incorporate the colour blue in future garden projects.


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The Colour Yellow

Natural Yellow Hues

Yellow is a marmite colour – you either love it or hate it and I love it! Yellow is my favourite colour as I feel it represents Spring sunshine and happiness. There are two seasons with an abundance of yellow flowers –  Early Spring with delicate creamy yellow primroses and bold lemon yellow daffodils and Late Summer with rich golden sunflowers and Rudbeckia blooms. Spring colours tend to be light, bright, warm and clear whilst Autumnal colours are warmer, intense and muted.  I personally prefer the more delicate pastel shades of yellow and am not so keen on rich, intense colours.   As I observed drifts of brightly coloured yellow daffodils recently I began to ponder why yellow can often be perceived as difficult to work with in a colour scheme.

Drayton Blooms

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The Twelve Colour Wheel

Twelve Colour Wheel

As an artist and  flower photographer I am absolutely passionate about colour and how different hues can be combined together to create beautiful colour palettes. A  Colour Wheel is a simple tool to work out how to combine different hues. It is an invaluable aid as an artist and can be used when planning colour schemes for interior design, for weddings and when planning a new border in the garden.

A Colour Wheel is created with the 3 Primary Colours  – Red, Blue and Yellow – equally spaced. The primary colours cannot be made by mixing other colours. The Secondary Colours of purple, green and orange are created by mixing the primaries together. Tertiary Colours are made by mixing primary and secondaries together. Tertiary colours are the neutrals.


Tints, shades and tones. 

Colours can be classified even further with tints, shades, and tones. These are key because when you are creating a colour scheme, you may want to use a family of hues not just one. I found an invaluable Blog Post by Sara of Burnett’s Boards which explains Colour Theory wonderfully and is a really useful resource when planning colour schemes.

Primrose Tints Tones and Shades

Daffodil Tints Tones and Shades

Crocus Tints Tones and Shades


Tints are acquired by adding white to a hue. Another name for a tint is a pastel colour. For example, lemon and cream are tints of yellow.

March Colours
Yellow Tint


Tones and Shades

Shades are acquired by adding black. Khaki and gold can be considered as shades of yellow and mustard is a yellow tone. Tones are created by adding greys or neutrals.

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Crocus Yellows


Monochromatic Colour Schemes 

Monochromatic Colour Scheme


Mono means `one’ so a monochomatic colour scheme is a one colour harmony in which tints, tones and shades are taken from one segment of the colour wheel. A monochromatic yellow colour scheme incorporates a variety of different yellows together. In flower arranging green is considered a `neutral’ colour. I find using lime-green flowers such as Alchemilla mollis and Viburnum opulus always creates a fresh Spring colour scheme. Other neutrals that work well with yellow are white, grey, beige and navy.


Viburnum opulus

I love this fresh Maytime bouquet by Kathryn Hurst of Shelsley Herbs & Flowers   which incorporates various tints of yellow with neutral greens and whites. Katherine uses seasonal, locally grown flowers and herbs from the beautiful Teme Valley in Worcestershire.  The wonderfully scented bouquet contained cowslips, tulips, heuchara, snowflakes, primula, buttercups, alchemilla, viburnam, syringa, sweet cicely & clematis.

Shelsley Herbs & Flowers

Primrose HuesPrimrose Hues

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Photos by Michelle Morris Photography.

Kathryn also grew and designed this beautiful September wreath where the lemon yellow dahlias were offset by frilly white blooms and an abundance of scented herbs and foliage grown on her plot. The wreath included heather, fennel flowers, old man’s beard, variegated sage, Bells of Ireland and cyperus in addition to the dahlias. Kathryn is a member of Flowers from the Farm and prides herself on using scented flowers and herbs.

I was delighted to be able to use these photos showing how vibrant daffodil yellow can be used to great effect. Neil from Neil Pollock Photography has captured Emily‘s yellow daffodil themed Spring wedding beautifully. The flowers were by Rachel of The Rose Shed.

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On closer inspection I can see that daffodil leaves are a grey-green colour. I am always amazed by how beautiful nature’s colour schemes are. If you take inspiration from the colours found in nature you won’t go far wrong. I find the bright yellow colour found in daffodils difficult to work with as it is such a vibrant, strong hue. However I’ve learnt from Rachel’s floral designs at Emily’s wedding that it’s best to allow this intense, bright yellow to shine out as nature intended and choose neutral greys, greens and whites as a backdrop.

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March Colours

Daffodil Wedding Green

Daffodil Wedding Grey

Analogous Colour Schemes

This colour harmony is made up of three or four colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel and not including more than one primary.

Analogous Colours

Commercial Floristry: Designs and Techniques by Sandra Adcock

My wedding bouquet included yellow, peach and cream roses.  The table decorations also incorporated yellow forsythia and orange hypericum berries in an analagous scheme of yellow, yellow-orange and orange hues.

Analogous Colours

Spring Sunshine Bouquet

Just Picked

Anakogous Colour Scheme

Suzanne from Beamsley Blooms  has chosen to include pale yellow narcissi in her Spring arrangement. Peach, Orange and Yellow are hues found adjacent on the colour wheel and are therefore considered analogous. The green of the hellebores provides nature’s neutrals. The common ingredient in all of the colours is yellow.




Complementary Colour Schemes

Complementary Colours

A more dynamic way of using yellow is to introduce it’s complementary colour of purple. Complementary colours are opposite to each other on the colour wheel and when used together these hues stand out and create beautiful contrasts. A complementary colour scheme includes any tints, shades and tones that appear directly opposite on the colour wheel.  It’s best to avoid using equal amounts of the two colours and also one flower of a different colour will be too dominant.

Clarey Wrightson has provided me with some wonderful examples of yellow used in complementary colour schemes.  The designs use flowers and foliage cultivated by her husband Barney in their cutting garden at Manor Garden, near Darlington.

Barney is obviously a talented chap as he also took the photo of this dreamy bouquet full of lilac flowers including scabious and sweetpeas which provide a wonderful contrast to the yellow roses.

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Purples and Yellows

Clarey has combined bright yellow narcissi with purple flowers in this rustic button-hole to contrast with the purple ties worn by the groomsmen. Such a different look to the previous grey and yellow colour scheme, but equally beautiful..

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Chris Parkinson Photography at

I met Sally Oates, Artisan Grower and Florist at a National Garden Scheme Open Day last year when I had the opportunity of a guided tour of her cutting garden, Dillycot.

‘Colour is my starting point, I love working with many different combinations, pretty white, cream and green, or pastel shades, charming harmonising mid tones, or exciting rich full colours. Of course mixed colours look fabulous too’.

These photos were taken in the Autumn when Sally ran a market stall with a yellow and lilac theme.

Dillycot Flowers

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Lisa Carey of Most Curious Rose included small accents of purple in her arrangement of British Blooms which really make the yellows sing.

Most Curious Rose Yellows

Contrasting Color Schemes 

Contrasting Colour Scheme


This colour harmony is obtained from the colour wheel by using a colour with another four segments away. E.g. Yellow and Blue or Yellow and Red. If bold, vibrant colours are used this scheme can be quite harsh so it’s best to use a tint or tone of one of the hues if the other is at full spectrum strength.

Rachel Slater of Owl House Flowers has worked this contrasting colour scheme wonderfully with her choice of yellow and blue flowers. The delicate blue highlights of the forget-me-not flowers really complement the creamy yellow tulips.

Contrasting Colour Scheme


Rachel Slater Yellow and Blue Wreath

Rachel Slater Yellows

I love the pop of blue highlighting the golden tulips too. If bold, vibrant colours are used this scheme can be harsh, so it’s best to use a tint or tone of one of the hues if the other is at full spectrum strength. That’s why Rachel’s paler blue forget me not flowers complement the full blown yellow tulips. The pale blue brings the yellow alive.

Yellow and Blue

March Posy

Yellow and Blue

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I must admit I thought my deep blue vintage poison bottles and Booths Real Old Willow china would make a pleasing contrast with bright yellow daffodils. I don’t like the effect. The yellow and blue are both dominant colours and for me the images are very stark and clashy. My eyes don’t know whether to look at the blue or the yellow. I find that using more than one full strength primary colour isn’t very restful on the eye.  I also experimented with pale yellow primroses and a deep shade of blue and gold tea-set. I much prefer the softer yellow against the deep blue. Now my eyes are drawn to the primroses and the navy-blue saucer has become an effective neutral backdrop.

A Cup of Primroses

Another effective Contrasting Colour Scheme is the use of pink with yellow. Pink is a tint of red so is more pleasing on the eye than bold, saturated red.

Contrasting Colour Scheme


Contrasting Colour Scheme


Pink and Yellow Church Flowers

Pink and Yellow Church Flowers

I have chosen to use my favourite lime green foliage. The yellow-green colour of Bupleurum, Kermit Chrysanthemum and Alchemilla enhances the yellow of the Craspedia globosa.

Triadic Colour Scheme

Triadic Colour Scheme


By adding blue into the mix and combining with the yellow and pink I created a Triadic Colour Scheme. This scheme is made up of 3 colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. The best way to create this colour harmony is to choose one colour to dominate with less of a second and a touch of the third or a mix of tints, tones and shades.

Triadic Colour Scheme


Miss Piggy Rose Wedding

I hope I’ve shown that there are so many ways to include yellow in a colour scheme. Thank you so much to everybody that has shared these beautiful images with me.

Rachel Slater Yellows
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Most Curious Rose Yellows
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Spring Sunshine Wedding

Sunshine Bouquet

When I married Mr Smiles our Spring wedding was full of sunshine and optimism.

When we were deciding which season of the year to get married in I knew I wanted a Spring Wedding. Spring is my favourite season. I am drawn to fresh Spring colours which can’t but help make you feel cheerful after the drab monochrome of Winter. Spring is seen as a fresh start for a New Year just as our marriage was the start of our New Life together.

Choosing a Wedding Colour Scheme

I love colour. I love mixing paints and experimenting with the different colours and tones they produce. I like experimenting with which colours work well together both in a painting and in my job as a Dispensing Optician when advising on frame choice. In my previous Blog Post  on `My Paint Box’ I shared how  I systematically record how my paints work together when mixed.

My advice to any Bride planning their wedding is to start thinking about which colours suit you and which colours you are attracted to.

Spring Colour Swatch

Spring Colour Palette

I invested in having my `colours done’ by House of Colour many years ago and found I am a `Peaches and Cream’ Spring or a Light Spring.  This knowledge was invaluable when planning my wedding. The book `Be a Beautiful Bride’ published by Hamlyn for Colour Me Beautiful is very useful.  As I am warm in colouring I knew that ivory, cream or golden shades suit me. The first thing I did was choose my dress. I wanted a dress which was pretty, feminine and romantic, preferably made of lace. I knew the dress I chose was the one for me as soon as I saw it. Pure White doesn’t enhance my warm colouring so I chose a champagne coloured taffeta gown by Essense of Australia. Essense of Australia D586 Front

Wedding Dress DetailMy dress was described  as an elegant slim-line tulle and crushed taffeta gown. It was Empire Line in shape as this suits my pear shape and high waist. The Empire Line was highlighted with a band of taffeta and the tulle was appliqued with lace and beaded with Swarovski crystals. Of course I thought my dress was absolutely beautiful! I accesorised my dress with cream shoes by Rainbow Club with little diamante detail, a delicate gold and crystal bracelet and a fabulous golden sparkly handbag. The best bit was my golden diamante tiara. I loved it and paraded around the house when I came back from the shop!

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Having chosen your dress you can then decide on a colour theme. We had chosen to get married in the Baytree Hotel in Burford, a beautiful old Inn with lovely gardens. The moment we visited the Baytree we knew this was the venue for us. It is a beautiful place with a sense of history, but has an air of cosy relaxation. We chose to have our ceremony in the conservatory which is very light and airy and has views of the garden.

I am as passionate about wedding flowers as I am about colour. I knew that I wanted my flowers to be romantic, natural, pretty country garden flowers. As a child I dreamt of creamy yellow primroses in a posy as a bouquet. My uncle picked my mum a posy of primroses from the local Woods when she was born. Bagley PrimroseIn reality primroses are too small for a bouquet. However the idea of something picked straight out of the garden arranged in an informal way has stayed with me. I am also passionate about roses as you will see from the pictures on my website. I now have 12 different varieties of rose in our garden at the last count and I know them all by name! I am particularly fond of big, old fashioned roses. Harlow Carr RoseI’m not keen on supermarket  roses which never open out. Yellow and pink are my favourite colours where flowers are concerned. I decided against pink flowers and pink as a colour scheme. Both myself, my bridesmaid and my mum-in-law can flush a nice shade of rosy pink and I thought it was best not to draw attention to our rosy cheeks!  Yellow seems to me to be bright, cheerful and optimistic. This is how I wanted my wedding to be. I therefore chose to have yellow roses in my bouquet. The colours that suit me best are peaches and cream so I opted for a bouquet of old fashioned roses in creams, yellow gold and soft peach. I included the variety of Narcissi ` Sir Winston Churchill‘ which are creamy-white with centres of peach.

WinstonChurchillMy bouquet was tied with lace picking up on the lace in my dress. When I was deciding on which flowers I would like in my bouquet I found the magazine `Wedding Flowers’ the best magazine on the market. It is full of good advice and more importantly there are good quality large photographs of example bouquets in every colour scheme imaginable. Once I had made some choices about how I wanted my bouquet to look I painted an imaginary watercolour which I used on our wedding stationary.



My painting portrayed an informal hand-tied bouquet in my colour scheme of peaches and cream with a splash of cheery golden yellow. I included jasmine as I intended to have jasmine hung in garlands in the conservatory at the Baytree. I carried this design through on our invitations, Order of Service, Table Plan and Bridal Favours.

Order of Service

Table Plan

Baytree Hotel Conservatory











Sunshine Bouquet



For the table decorations I chose to have informal jugs of flowers incorporating roses from my bouquet but also less structured foliage and flowers giving the impression that they had just been picked out of the garden. The jugs and ceremony flowers included foliage of yellow forsythia and viburnum opulus. The viburnum was a lovely fresh lime green colour. I loved it so much I hunted it down to grow in our garden. The only nursery I could find that stocked it is Sarah Raven.

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Bridal Favours

I included home-made crab apple jelly pots on the tables as bridal favours. Crab apple jelly is a beautiful peach colour. I topped the pots with lace and tags with my own design to match the theme.P&D (169)P&D (014) I also managed to find peach tea lights which co-ordinated beautifully. I made confetti cones from paper with textured paper containing dried flowers and filled the cones with  freeze-dried rose petals.

The vast majority of my wedding photographs here were taken by Steve Hicks of Squib Photography. He is a fabulous wedding photographer with a delightful manner and I would highly recommend him.

The next stage in deciding on a colour scheme was to make a decision about outfits for my bridesmaid and the men, including the groom! I found my colour knowledge as an artist was an invaluable. It does help to have a little colour knowledge and this colour wheel is helpful:-

 Wedding Colour Wheel

Wedding Colour Wheel

I found this Colour Wheel on a Blog called Budget Brides Guide and the article on colour schemes was really useful:-

There are basically 3 types of wedding colour combinations to choose from:-

Monotone. With this colour scheme you pick one colour and stick to it. You can use many different shades of the same colour. For example my sister-in-law wanted her colour scheme to be pink and pink it was!DSC_0034

She had a variety of pinks in her bouquet including soft pink Sweet Avalanche roses and darker pink bombastic spray roses. I gave her the flowers as a wedding gift and Fabulous Flowers of Abingdon did her proud.Her shoes were vibrant pink and the groom had a tie and shirt in shades of pink.

Sujinan's Bouquet




I decided to be different and wore a dress with red flowers!



Analogous Colours. This colour scheme combines 2 colours next to each other on the color wheel. For example: red and orange, blue and green, violet and red, etc. These make really good colour combinations as they are pleasing to the eyes.   You can combine shades of 2 or 3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel. When I was deciding on my colour scheme I was intending to use `Peaches and Cream’ as my colour scheme with accents of golden yellow. You can see on the Colour Wheel that these colours all lie next to each other and are therefore analogous colours.  I was therefore considering putting my bridesmaid in a brushed gold or yellow dress. She refused! If I’d had my way she may have been in cheery sunflower yellow! However my bridesmaid doesn’t suit yellow. My bridesmaid has lovely bright blue eyes and although light colours suit her like me, she doesn’t have my Spring colouring. She is a light, Summer.  Many of the light pastel colours that suit me work well on her, however blues work better on her then any colour biased towards yellow. Summer ColourA person with Summer colouring does not look good in yellow, gold, orange or peach. The only possible yellow may have been a pale primrose yellow which she can wear, but wouldn’t have been keen on wearing! This can be a problem if your bridal party includes several people with a bias towards particular colours. In the Colour Me Beautiful Book `Be a Beautiful Bride’ there is a list of several colours which suit everyone and this lists includes purple, turquoise, emerald and true red.

Complementary Colours. These are colours that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. These colors when used together stand out and create contrasts. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green. Suddenly my knowledge of colour and the colour wheel was invaluable. If you find peach on the colour wheel and look for  the complentary colour on the opposite side you get a beautiful teal blue/green. Sorted! I found a beautiful dress by Dessy in a suitable colour called `Capri’.  It was a fabulous colour for my bridesmaid and went with my   colour scheme as a cheery complementary colour. I am not quite sure what the groom and the grooms men thought about wearing such bright coloured cravats, but I loved it!  I thought the colour was bright, cheery and optimistic. I did make a joke about the colour in my speech!

Dessy 2759 Capri

I’d love to know what you think about my wedding colour scheme!

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