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.

Emily & Tom Small-331

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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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Emily & Tom Small-331



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
Emily & Tom Small-331
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yellow & white wreath - Copy - Copy
Most Curious Rose Yellows
P&D (245)
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