Patio decor inspired by sites around the globe

May 22, 2013 

The third week of May means it is time to fill your garden with color. Gardeners all over the world bask in the beauty of natural color. Take a cue from global inspiration to design a patio or deck that will inspire joy all summer long. Here are winning color combinations.


Go warm with inspiration from south of the border.

In our often-cloudy climate, you can heat up your patio by choosing plants such as bright orange calendulas, nasturtiums and geraniums paired with yellow marigolds, vibrant coleus and classic terra cotta pots.

Add more punches of bright color with pillows and seat cushions that are in the same color family, and display your travel memories from Mexico or the sunny Mediterranean. Orange and yellow flowers will stand out on sunny patios but also can be used to brighten a shaded corner — just substitute the intense red, orange and yellow blooms of begonias.

The bright orange bonfire begonia is a vigorous grower in sun or shade with more pointed leaves, often called the angel wing begonia because of the distinctive leaf shape. The more rounded blooms and foliage of the nonstop begonia has a name describing the flowering cycle – these begonias just keep blooming, nonstop all summer long.


Create a classic garden theme by limiting the colors. Who can resist the rainbow of flower color displayed at nurseries this month? If you have a desire for a cool, classic and formal look, especially for a front yard display, then seek out all-white flowers for a summer garden that will stand out from the rest.

Pristine white blooms can be found on varieties of geraniums, lobelia, petunias, begonias and also in the foliage of plants with variegated foliage. Show off the moon shades of these white bloomers by potting them in dark black — or even deep-blue pots — and you’ll have a display that is fresh, arresting and contemporary. Don’t have any dark black containers? A change is just a can of spray paint away. Types of spray paint now are sold for painting plastic pots. Also, look for pillows and cushions in a graphic black-and-white print. Or make your own outdoor cushions using the water-resistant fabric from a shower curtain.


No color theme is as soothing as colors calmed by a tint of white. These pastel colors are natural in the garden. Choose a bright focal-point color, such as a hot-pink geranium, and build around it using the same color family, such as lavender lobelia and blush-colored impatiens. Or mix it up with a rainbow of soft colors against soothing aqua blue, pale yellow or rich cream accents.

Don’t forget you can change the color of your outdoor furniture to match the tone or theme of your patio or deck makeover. No matter if your furniture is made of wood, metal or even wicker, you can freshen it up with paint, or just scrub off the winter grime and get ready to enjoy the summer season in your very own color-themed paradise.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. For gardening questions, write to her at P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, WA 98022. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope for a personal reply. She also can be reached at her website,

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