Hue is affected by light quality, time of day, the size and shape of the are where it is used, and surrounding colors. The distance from which it is observed will also influence how it is perceived.
A closer look at the visible spectrum shows that several other colors exist, as represented here with the addition of other plants. These are termed intermediate hues. Humans are capable of seeing thousands of colors, those which fall between their primary, or parent colors. In addition to the intermediate hues, their light, dark and gray variations provide for a greatly expanded palette.
The patterns and arrangement of light and dark are an important part of any composition. A gardener cannot change the value of a color as painters do, but he can understand these differences exist, and may rely on the changes that affect the appearance of value, so that colors look lighter or darker. These will include time of day, season, and light source, as well way different color combinations affect perception.
Landscapes and gardens with a high contrast of lights and darks will be dramatic and eye catching, but extremes of value contrast can be “busy”. Values will vary with each hue.
VALUE is more readily studied in the absence of color, Here, a simple composition converted to black and white better illustrates the the impact of differing values.
The Munsell Color-Order System is an American classifying system used as a standard for color notation in artistic, commercial, scientific and educational work. Developed by an artist, Albert Munsell, for use by designers, it can be used to specify color and show the relationships among colors. Gradations of color are based on the way people see, not on formulations o paint or other colorant mixing, so that the color of any surface can be identified by comparing it to color chips that are arranged according to visual discrimination.
Achromatic Colors (White, Black and Gray) have not hue and are considered neutral. While humans can perceive each, as light, white is not a color, but rather, it is the sum of all radiations, or wavelengths, while black is the total absence of light. As paint, white is a primary; it cannot be obtained from other colors. Black is a secondary pigment created by using other colors.
Grays in the landscape are not true grays, more often they are pale yellow-greens and bluish-greens. Some plants possess waxy leaf surfaces or hairs that reflect light, creating a “gray” appearance. Just as our ability to perceive colors will diminish at dusk, allowing us to see in blacks and whites with some gradiations in between, gray colors in plants are produced by reducing the intensity of white light.
Pastels, colors high in value (light) and saturation. Pastels used in garden settings can look particularly well when used in part shade (bright sun can fade them) against a lot of foliage greens as a background.
Pastels; hues of relatively high value and saturation, mix well together.
Analagous color scheme of pale crimson, deep red and violet.
Muted color scheme of blue-green, gray-green and dark reds.
Complementary color scheme; yellow and blue opposite one another on the color wheel.
Relaxing summer greens and neutral white, generate interest through varied use of textures and forms.
Autumn colors; shades of yellow; gold background (willow), and heavily saturated yellows and reds with low value.
Crimson, violet and pale pink generate visual interest through analagous colors and varying values.
Analagous color scheme of fine textured Japanese Maples in Red, gold with bold textured foliage in background, strong vertical stems of golden bamboo
Triad color scheme using yellow, orange and blue.
Yellow, blue and pale red (pink)
Chartreuse green and red; opposite color scheme.
Reds and greens.
Warm analagous color scheme; yellow, orange and red predominate.
• “Hue” is a term used to answer the question,
“What color is that?”
• Hue refers to the location of the color on the
• Hue, as a quality of color, is considered important
because of the emotional content it is symbolically
• Hue is affected by the environment and its
• Contrast: the perception of differences between two or
• Hue Contrast affects unity and balance of a composition.
• High hue contrast levels are often exciting.
• Low hue contrast levels can be soothing and restful, but to
little can be boring, dull.
• Value: describes the light or dark quality of a
color, determined by the amount of light the object
• White reflects almost all light, so it has the highest
value, and is lightest.
• Black reflects almost no light, so it has the darkest
value and is darkest.
• Also referred to as a hues intensity,
brilliance, purity or chroma
• Is a measure of the strength, or color
content, of a hue
• Pure hues are the more saturated, while
hues with gray, black or white are less
• Possess high value and low saturation
• Most appropriately used as background and
• As with pastels, difficult to use in bright
• Useful in creating compositions of varying
• Possess high saturation at their natural
levels; each color has a unique saturation
• Usually noticed first in any setting
• Work well when viewed at a distance
• Work well as accent containers
• As with all colors, will appear gray at a
• Possess low value and high saturation
• Show best close up
• Excellent foil to light colored backdrops
• May be mixed easily; dark value provides
strong sense of unity
• Possess low saturation and medium value
• Are more gray than other colors
• Are darker than pale colors (high vs. medium
• May be used alone, or as a contrast to brightly
colored foliage and flowers
• Their value makes them appear closer and larger
than dark colors, smaller and more distant than