True blue flowers may be rare, but that’s no reason not to include this popular shade in your outdoor space
Houzz UK editorial staff. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for… More
Blues and greens have been in favour for a while – both propelled by winning ‘Colour of the Year’ statuses (Greenery – a love-it-hate-it acid green – was Pantone’s and Denim Drift – a soft blue – came via Dulux). And yet adding the latter shade to our gardens to combine these favoured colours isn’t as common as you might expect. Perhaps it reflects the rarity of a true blue hue occurring in nature (it was big news recently when the RHS recently verified the first ever ‘true blue’ chrysanthemum, and fewer than 10% of flower species produce blue blooms and what we often call blue is, in fact, closer to purple). But to celebrate this new blue bloom, and a general love of the shade generally right now, here are nine gardens to inspire you to take the colour outside.
Favour your floor
The patterned tile revolution is showing no signs of slowing down, and the trend is now heading outside in UK and Irish gardens. While vibrantly tiled courtyards are two a penny in certain hotter countries – Morocco and Spain spring to mind – we’re only just catching on to the possibilities here. Let this inspire you: It’s a major step towards making our outdoor spaces feel like another room in our homes. And just as you’d coordinate colours inside, take a careful look outside, too – this strong blue-and-white floor needs complementary woodwork. The homeowners have chosen to pick up on the blue, but white or black could work equally well (though the former would enjoy some inky accessories to anchor it).
Be aware that if your tiles are encaustic (rather than glazed), you may need to seal them to prevent stains. Enquire about the required products and treatment from your supplier so you know what’s in store – and don’t scrimp on this step, you’ll regret it!
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Spruce up your shed
If painting your fence (which we’ll come to shortly) feels too much of a commitment, but you’re toying with painting some wood, choosing a garden structure might feel a safer choice. And your shed is a good option as paint has the power to transform it from simply a practical storage or pottering place into a positively homely feature.
Consider your surrounding plantings carefully. Whereas bare wood or simpler hues such as white, black or grey are endlessly versatile, you could find that your new blue paint job clashes with your flowers. Paint testers onto sheets of paper and introduce them to various petals until you find the shade that’s friends with them all.
Go the full Frida Kahlo
While a rendered wall in a British or Irish garden isn’t so rare, painting it a vibrant, sunshine-country colour is. This needs to change as it can really transform the feel of a not-so-sunny space into something bright and warming.
This strong cerulean is a shade holidaymakers to the Greek islands have long admired. But combining this vibrant blue with rich, vibrant yellow, rusty brown and dark green takes the whole look in a distinctly Frida Kahlo direction (this London garden is a proud homage to the garden at Kahlo’s Mexico City home Casa Azul, or the Blue House).
Introduce some classic-country garden colour with one of nature’s few true blue blooms.
The trick to making them look as classy as these is to adhere to a limited colour palette by teaming them with shades from the same segment of the colour wheel. Forget competing yellows, oranges, reds or whites; for understated rustic style, pale pink petals and bursts of purple are enough to gently complement these bold blue delphiniums.
As we increasingly strive to merge our indoor and outdoor spaces, even blue accents inside (ones which border your garden or terrace, of course) are something that can potentially imbue your exterior space with the hue. This cool feature wall and floor combo is quite the statement and would be good to enjoy from the inside, doors open, looking out or vice versa (surround it with lush potted plants!).
This example happens to be an unusual and wonderfully luxurious use of space. If you can’t have a whole area just to be pretty to look at with one or two artful chairs, you can still take this idea and use it in the dining or lounging part of your kitchen extension, if you have one. Turn one of the walls (or wall and floor) into a feature like this one or, as a quick-fix tryout, hang a huge blue artwork on the back wall (if it’s not filled with appliances). Such things don’t come cheap; you might want instead to get a large piece of fabric and have it stretched around a canvas. An adventurous blue-tiled splashback if your kitchen is more visible from the outside also has the potential for garden impact.
5 covetable kitchen extensions that work the indoor/outdoor trend
Brighten up a trellis
This unusual garden uses trellis as a zoning device – defining the path and enclosing the central area – rather than positioning it against fences and walls, as most of us probably do. This means it is centre stage in the design of the space – as is the bright blue it’s been painted.
Consider what will surround your new feature: blue and pale grey is a classic combination. Here, surrounding fencing has been painted in this gentle secondary colour, but even the gravel blends in. Get a sample of a few potential stones before you commit, and soak them with water to ensure the colour won’t change and clash when it rains.
Freshen up a fence
The bright cobalt in the last idea will not be for everyone, nor for every garden. Here, instead, a more refined Oxford blue makes for a subtle backdrop. There are lots of specialist exterior wood paints out there to choose from. Pair with hot pinks and oranges, as here, or go New England nautical and accessorise with crisp-blue striped cushions, bright-white render and an outdoor jute rug.
Lay it down
Cheaper and without the great commitment of tiles, a blue-tinged outdoor rug – in this case one that’s heavy on the aqua – is the quickest way to add this shade to your garden. Try it out for the rest of the season and contemplate whether you might consider a more permanent version next spring.
How to decorate with aqua
Enrich a rendered wall
A rich blue will come into its own as the sun goes down on a clear evening such as the one captured in this photograph.
Painting a wall is one of the simplest architectural tricks to try if you are keen to add a slice of blue to your exterior. You could, of course, paint over bare bricks, but the smooth finish of render will give your outdoor space a contemporary boost. Be sure to prep the wall before painting, since any lumps, bumps and chips are likely to be magnified by the addition of paint.
Do you have a colour scheme in your garden? Tell us how you decided on it and implemented it in the Comments section.