Warm colors take a supporting role to other colors. They bring in their warmth and stabilizing attributes.
Black is a protective color, helping to keep the external world at bay by comforting you and removing negativity. A feminine energy creating restfulness and restorative feelings. Black links the unknown or the unseen creating mystery and provides a sense of potential and possibility. It is the best color when you want calmness.
From the Native Americans black gives life and is represented through its soil color. Known as the Color of Soil because it gives life. In your sacred space black adds depth, sophistication or glamour. Lovely when used with contrasting bright colors. Use in small qualities.
Use this color when wanting to create a space into which anything may emerge and disappear. Like the color white, I feel black helps with new beginnings Shapes that represent black are curvy, undulating or irregular patterns. If you need a touch of stability in the home, place a touch of black in the Southwest and in the North plants, stone or art to help with career decisions. Trees represented by this color are Cottonwood (Populus Aigeiros), and Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana, Carpinus betulus.)
Brown is The Color of Earth is both a masculine and feminine energy. Seen in the outdoors and in agricultural with thoughts of wholesomeness, natural and organic production. While brown remains in the background, it will add a touch of luminosity to spaces. As a tree color it offers stability and provides structure and support.
A friendly and approachable, practical and sensible color. Provides a sense of security and belonging. A joyful color that offers growth and protection.
Often seen as a fall combination where it showcases other colors. Use in Hot color combinations for last blast before winter. Adds depth and grounding in a small space. Shades of brown are in shapes of are horizontal, square or rectangle. Use bark, stone or wood. Trees represented by this color are the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and the Cacao (Theobroma cacao).
A feminine color treasured by several ancient goddesses of love that go back pre-Sumerian times. They emphasize the nurturing aspect of women and their ongoing youthfulness. You may be more familiar with this group of goddesses by names of Ishtar (Egyptian), Aphrodite (Greek), and Venus (Roman). All display their power of love, balance, beauty and artistic skills with copper.
In the mineral form, copper is required in photosynthesis and is one of eight micro-nutrients required for plant life. Add a touch of this color in a space that needs a boost from the earth. Keep copper nearby to help with clear communication, mitigate arthritis and rheumatism ailments.
Trees represented by copper are found in the underside leaves of called indumentum. These fine hairs are usually cinnamon brown and resembles felt. that help to store water and protect the plant from cold and heat. Trees that display this are the Magnolias (Magnolia) and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron).
In the West pink is feminine both in color and energetically promoting affection and intimacy, thoughtful and caring moments. From Japan pink is a masculine influence representing the young Japanese warriors, the Samurai who fell in battle. Cherry blossoms of the Prunus serrulate fell at the time when the warriors fell. The Sakura Festival represents , and the battles fought. Cherry blossoming festivals can be found the world over to celebrate spring.
Chi and high energetic vibrations of pink will stay in your garden through use of plants or structures. Mix the colors with dark blue, green, black or gray tones to help highlight vibration and support of the guardian angels. A great color for a child’s garden creating adventure and tranquility, all at the same time. Pink is made of red, a primary color used for exploring and white, a secondary color made up of red, green and blue bringing insight. Trees represented by this color are the Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) and the Hawthorn (Crataegus).
Hot Colors give vitality. They symbolize the force and energy of the sun. They are masculine energies urging forward movement. Conversational colors wanting and encouraging discussion and sharing of ideas, communication, or new thinking. These are the attention grabbers that rouse the senses and help to bring large spaces to an intimate level.
Red is the Color of Welcome. In multiple cultures a red door means welcome indicating that the home is full of life, energy and excitement. Sometimes a bit of luck. A vibrant color that offers support and wants you to create your own inner strength. It provides that boost of energy either in the beginning or end of the day.
Red is found just about everywhere. Ancient Egyptians used red to represent chaos, the desert, life and protection. Modern day China uses it as the color of prosperity. Red is a color of the Native American medicine wheels. In tree worship, a strip of red cloth is attached to the tree to protect it and ward off evil spirits.
Want to show your highly focus and passionate side? Use multiple shades of red and create a hot cottage garden. It will take on different properties depending on what other colors surround it. Green is the complementary color to red, the joyful color of the Christmas Season. Silver calms it and white offers a crisp contrast.
The light always glows on its petals. In Spring, red brightens its space as the sun starts its journey through the season. Then shines through the summer light to the evening just before fall where it gives the brilliant last blast as the dormancy of winter comes. Always use in small numbers.
Red can be found in star-shape or triangular plants or artwork. Trees represented by this color are the Rowan (Sorbus), Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), and Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’).
Orange is the Joy Bringer promoting peace and harmony. Citrus aurantius is where the name of orange comes from. An evergreen tree bearing fruit. Who doesn’t enjoy this fruit, its perfect shape that squirts at you and makes you laugh? Orange loves to create a center of attention and give you luck. It enhances both mental and physical energy stimulating creativity. Orange is one of the prevalent colors that show changes as seen when the autumn leaves began to fall, and the seasons began to change.
Plant this color near seating areas to encourage socializing and spontaneous activity. Or in a private space where a touch of energy is needed, and you wish to revitalize. So many shades support either a sunny or a cloudy spot. It loves to share its vibrancy. Use darker shades for hot climates and softer shades for cloudy.
Shapes and structures of orange can be found in brick walls, paths, terra-cotta pots, statuary, copper trellises and birdbaths. Trees represented by this color are Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum spp), and the Madrone (Arbutus menziesii).
Gold is the second of the Master Healer colors. It protects, enlightens and loves to be generous and compassionate. Gold is wisdom and knowledge sharing. It attracts prosperity to the home.
Gold plants brighten the landscape with shots of luminosity adding richness and warmth to spaces. It will illuminate objects or plants that are nearby. Use round and oval shapes or arches to move gold energy into your space. The trees represented by this color are Larch (Larix) and the Aspen (Populus).
Yellow is the Great Communicator. The color of high-summer shining through as the sun changes its path. It offers its uplifting energy supporting and renewing your enthusiasm for life. Reflect on your earlier season remembering the happiness, friendship or other aspects of the season
Imperial China used yellow as a sign of prosperity. In Polynesia it represents royalty and divinity.
Use yellow in a space where you can sit and reflect. A corner with yellow represents confidence, charm and explores your creativity. It helps in seeking another view point as in new ideas or the weather.
Yellow does well in mass plantings, especially in the distance. It is the easiest color to see. Those who are color-blind will appreciate its use in a scared space. Used it to lighten a corner darkening under the sun’s rotation.
Shapes representing yellow are low, flat, wide or horizontal. Trees represented are the Tulip (Liriodendron) and the Linden (Tilia).
Cool Colors as a group are quiet and restorative colors offering serenity, calming and purifying energies. Attributes of prosperity, positive communication, uplifting and encouragement for creativity. Feminine energies that reflect and support taking a pause when walking through sacred spaces. They are the best colors for a small space helping the space to appear larger. Used in keeping chi in your garden whether with plants, artwork or structures.
Blue represents the sky, water and abundance. It gives a calmer experience making it one of the top five colors for therapeutic spaces. It creates peace and tranquility and relaxes the body physically and mentally. Blue will slow the metabolic rate, a great color for sleeping. The paler blue colors suggest more freedom. A high vibration energy shown in the color of electricity. It will bring lots of positive energy into a space. In the Chinese culture blue represents immortality and advancement. It is the Goddess Venus’ sacred color. The coolest of the Cool Colors and the number one favorite color around the world.
Blue as an entrance point to your sacred space evokes calmness for those who enter. Perhaps because it evokes feelings of trust, strength, safety and security. Blue works with all colors. It appears to recede unless it has a silvery edge to it, making it sparkle and creating a focal point.
A shade of blue on the north side of a building calls chi energy from the south. In Feng Shui, East and Southeast strongly support blue. Shapes of blue are rectangular and vertical with tall and thin properties.
Trees represented by this color are Blue Conifers (Spruce) and Noble Fir (Abies procera).
Green is one of two of the Master Healer colors. It is the Color of the Faire Kingdom. Brian Edwards in his analysis of the Green Knight felt that “Evergreen is the Color of Truth.” It is the color with the most shades representing the natural environment. The color of nature reflecting life, fertility and growth. Influential in sustainability of agriculture, the forests, ecology, food and herbalism. It is fresh and cool creating soothing and restful effects. It provides a respite from the worries and cares of the world, renewing and restoring a sense of balance, well-being, harmony and a sense of order.
As a healing color, green encourages growth which requires transformation and change. Its many shades and energy aids in the ability to manage change. A key color in sanctuaries it represented Paradise in Persia and eternal life in Japan. Its healing properties help one learn to love others and themselves. Green is the most restful color for the human eye. In color therapy, therapists use green to help reduce stress, headaches and other minor medical issues.
The color of nature representing fertility, growth and the green man and goddesses. Its calming effect is worldwide. Think of how you feel when entering the woods, green doors or gates. In China a green door symbolizes life cycles and growth. Go for that walk in the woods. Edgar Cayce said, “contact with nature is very important if you want to be in balance and have a peaceful and harmonious life.”
In a sacred space, green creates harmony, calmness and honors the green world. Include green for the fairies in your space. A color of prosperity. Shapes are vertical and columnar and will aid in love and luck, or abundance.
Trees represented by this color are the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) and the Yew (Taxus spp.)
Purple is an ethereal color representing creativity, spiritually and royalty. Thought to be a natural sedative with its charming, graceful and elegant bearing. It loves to bring new opportunities and open-minded views to discussions. In traditional Chinese symbolism, purple symbolizes divinity and immortality.
For many centuries, purple was restricted to royalty and the wealthy. It was not found naturally. The Greeks created an intensive dyeing process using a shellfish called porphura. The word purple from this species creating the dye, Tyrian Purple. Modern day plant hunters, explorers and genetics have shared purple with all of us keeping the mystique and increasing the availability.
In a sacred space purple supports and sometimes, speeds up healing and health when placed in any direction. Great for unifying disparate colors and its many shades add dimension and depth to a space. A powerful color best used in small dosages.
Place purple near your entrance point where it will invite opportunities to your home. It is the most spiritual and versatile color in the color spectrum. The flowers are enchanting and mimic other worldly mystery. They symbolize charm, grace, elegance, and refinement. Purple flowers can make a strong romantic impression.
A magical color that works well in creating mystery. Place a shade of purple in your power spot to bring more healing, chi, or excitement. Purple foliage, chartreuse and pink colors will add amplify dimensions. Blues and greens adds substance. Reds and golds will add grounding. When use in shade plantings, it will separate and define other colors. Purple vegetables are fun to plant and grow and children love this color.
Trees represented by this color are Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and Purpleheart (Peltogyne spp.)
White is new beginnings. It represents fertility, royalty, spiritual truth and strength. Attracts benevolent spiritual forces and creates serenity and open mindfulness. It associated with moon magic and power from a higher sphere. A feminine energy. This color helps to bring about mental clarity and purification of thoughts or actions.
In a sacred space, white is a great color for creating a reflective area. Use as a lead-in-color toward other color groupings. Since ancient times, white is the main color used in shade, evening, or moon gardens. Use shapes of round or oval and arches to help move energy through your sacred space. White daisies are a symbol of loyal love. Supportive of North and West directions.
Trees represented by this color are Apples (Malus spp.), Dogwoods (Cornus spp.), Magnolia (Magnolioideae spp.), and Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
Silver restores equilibrium and stability to an area where it works well with other colors. Place in your sacred space’s wealth corner. Use where you want to add a touch of glamour. Complimented by shapes of round, oval or arches.
Its illumination characteristics help pastels (pale pinks, blues, yellows, lavender, and white) to shine as if they were the attention grabbers in these settings. In warmer or warming regions, silver is the green of northern gardens. It uses the least water, provides wildlife habitat and glows in the evening sky. Silver support the West direction.
Trees represented by this color are Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) and Silvertree (Leucadendron argenteum).
“I am of a little world made cunningly of elements, and an angelic spirit” John Donne
The colors, direction and elements of nature work together in multiple belief systems. Fire or sun, air or wind, water, metal and earth or spirit. These components play an important role in sacred spaces. Many variations exist.
Ancients and indigenous people used colors and the directions for health, healing or conferring with nature. The Native American tribes called them Medicine Wheels a western name. Each section of the wheel works with north, south, east and west directions. The directions are in the colors white, black, red or yellow. In some wheels the colors are blue, purple or green. Their spiritual names are Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree.
Western metaphysical call the elements Air representing the east, Earth representing the north, Fire representing the south and Water representing the west. Feng Shui elements are air, wood, fire, metal and earth.
The plants of medicine wheel represent elements and directions. Cedar, mullein, sage, sweet grass, sweet violet, and tobacco are but an example. In Western practices the plants are cottonwood, cilantro, oak, wormwood, and lavender. Feng Shui examples are pine trees, tulip trees, jasmine, lilacs, hellebores or snowdrops.
Colors are divided into three groupings. Each circle shows the compass direction supported by that color. Included are the elements from Native American tribes, Wicca, Western metaphysical and Feng Shui. I’ve included wording on what the color means.
Cool Colors recede, appearing farther away. A great design component for small spaces making them appear larger. They offer serenity, soothing, calming and purifying attributes. All are feminine energies reflecting and supporting the space around them. They are colors of prosperity, positive communication, uplifting and encourage creativity.
Quiet and restorative colors keep chi in your garden. Use shapes that are tall, create movement and include wood. Make them horizontal, vertical, thin and curvy or made of stone. Arch shapes representing domes, ovals or circles round out the grouping.
Warm Colors appear to advance and make spaces smaller. They offer warmth, stabilizing, and protective attributes. These colors are often in the background taking a supporting role. They are the life-giving colors, and many are feminine energies. Shapes of these colors are pyramid, horizontal, vertical, thin and curvy and made of stone. Warm colors support children and pets, two things often found in a sacred space.
A side note: Sadly, Warm colors are now called Neutrals. Why? Neutral is such a boring word and these colors are not boring. The bright pink of a morning sunrise. Queen of the Night tulips in a stunning terracotta container. The glint of a copper iris as the light plays along its bloom? Neutral, I think not.
Hot Colors pop. They are at their strongest in the full of summer to the crest of the fall equinox. These are the social colors and attention grabbers of the color world. Place them near activities of discussion; exchange of ideas, communication or innovative thinking. Or to rouse the senses, they bring large spaces to an intimate level. Masculine energies representing the force of the sun and sharing its vitality. For therapeutic gardens these colors help when human eyes are fading. Shapes are round and triangular. Fire pits are representative of structures of the hot colors. This group is best used in small quantities.
This group is renamed to the Warm Colors. The New Warms contain not one bit of warmth. They make you jump up, move, and shake that booty. They are meant for inner action, oohs and aahs. I love the August festivals of Hot Jazz/Cool Nights. Just the wording makes you picture the colors and actions of this group.
“Colours also have healing properties and with their constant movement across the surface of the planet they created energy fields. It was within these areas that life started. “
Andre Norton – The Legend of the Fairy Stone
Colors are fantastic, interesting and complex. They play a valuable role in the design, the contribution of or the meaning of your sacred space. They create harmonious environments and nowhere is that greater than within the plant kingdom. Healing is their purpose no matter the shade, tone or use; always at work to help us, the earth or healing nearby areas.
The Book of Durrow is one of the first books on documented color dating back to the seventh century. Like its more famous cousin, The Book of Kells, they are both known for their design work. The colors from these books are ever present in plants and sacred spaces.
- Blue representing the sky, healing & positive energy
- Green representing nature, restfulness, fertility & growth
- Purple representing the ethereal, mindful awareness & calming
- Red representing intensity, inner-strength & a boost of energy
- Orange representing fire, moving forward & socializing
- Gold representing the sun, protection & knowledge
- Yellow representing intuition, illumination & new ideas
In the enlightenment period Sir Isaac Newton used a prism in 1666 to discovering the electromagnetic spectrum. The prism showed sunlight is not one color but many. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
In the 1940’s Max Luscher developed the field of color psychology. His color therapy used red, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, gray and black. He could tell a person’s stress level and psychological make-up by the order the color chosen or if paired with another color.
Edgar Cayce believed that everything is energy and radiates a heat signature that produces colors. He could the energetic colors around people, and he believed each color represented an aspect of that person.
Nature and color have long been a part of healing. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians believed in healing with colors. In the western world these beliefs are rapidly finding their way into sacred spaces. Horticultural therapy is one modularity being integrated into hospital and healing spaces. Forest bathing, used by the Japanese has gain popularity. A terrific practice, I would hike in the winter too many great natural pools, coming away refreshed.
Each of us have experience the impact of color. The sudden smile, finding yourself in a reflective mode, feeling cool on a hot day or warmth on a cool winter’s day. In a sacred space they work hard, often taking us out of our immediate thoughts. Changing our mood, provide healing or joy and challenging our observation skills.
Color and direction play a role in designing spaces. Indigenous tribes have great insight into working with nature and individuals. Feng Shui is well-known for using these attributes in designing or restoring sacred spaces. The combination can create a relaxing corner for reflecting, make small spaces seem larger, showcase a particular spot or bring areas together.
General tips on color in a sacred space:
- Show your personality
- When buying plants, especially annuals – look at them as you do with paint swatches. Notice the slightest change in shade, structure or texture. Even containers play a role. I always tell my clients to take photos of their favorite combinations. It is not unusual to use the same plants year after year as long as they are available.
- Using the color wheel and understanding each neighbor’s relationship always help. No worries if you want to use either end of the spectrum and put them in the same container. Go for it.
- The cool colors of blue, purple, green or white reflect light and stand out in shade or cloudy skies. These colors create depth.
- The hot colors of red, orange, and yellow jump out. Highly recommended for sunny locations. These colors make spaces look closer, a great use for folks who are house bound.
- The warm colors of black, brown, copper, or pink can make a space sizzle and come alive. They are often the supportive cast, letting the other colors shine about them.
- As I have matured in my planting skills and continual downsizing, I have appreciated the technique of repeating the same color in my containers and for clients. That quiet flow they create. Increasing what the eye and mind see.
- I love texture and color and many a winter and spring container is based on texture.
- Do use your art pieces?
Most importantly this is your sacred space, use the colors that work for you. Change when you want to and enjoy.
“You touch the earth, you will never cry again” Arlene Tognetti
I walk outside my patio door and the wonderful scent of my sweet peas fills the air. This smallest event makes me stop and smile. I then take a seat and wait excitedly for the next whiff to move towards me. This small movement is a sacred one. Where you forget totally what you were doing and truly enjoy the moment.
Sacred spaces are the places where it makes you take a break, where you feel calm, free or dare I say at peace. It can be a simple arrangement you brought. A single container with your favorite plant or several containers to large spaces. It is a place for you, the place you consider sacred. It consists of some aspect of nature and you.
A place that is sacred can do many things. Refresh your spirit after a long day or unexpected event, create awe and wonder as you watch the dragonflies dart in and out, provide sanctuary when you feel distressed in any form. Seek out that touch of the nature spirit. Take the important five minutes to connect with a quiet place. Carry a picture of your favorite plant or space–put it on your phone.
You may have heard, nature is hot again, that after several years of being inside, scientific studies prove we need nature. It resets an internal need forgotten. Over the last several years the healthcare industry has proven out that walking in nature, gardening, and even the simple act of reflecting has proven to heal, calm and change an individual’s life.
Communing with nature is nothing new, we continually hear the loss of it. True, large defoliation of land–due to man, fires, insects or, the attack of foreign bugs and non-native plants and the traditional gota build syndrome. All have their impact. Creating your own or supporting sacred spot become critical.
I help my clients to create quiet spaces. Helping to start their day or end their day or in the evening to watch the stars go by. Create a place that becomes special where you can catch your breath whether for an hour or a couple of days.
I have been a lifelong steward. Mankind is but one piece of the earth and yet carries the heaviest load. Quiet Garden is one of my favorite organizations. The “Quiet Garden Movement nurtures low cost, accessible, outdoor space for prayer, contemplation, rest and inspiration in a variety of settings.” These are places that speak to your inner spirit, helping to heal and look at your place in the world somewhat differently. Leave your cell phone at the gate. It is on my bucket list to create and manage such a place.
Through helping to rediscover the power of your own spirit and recognizing the greatness that is all around us, wellness and stewardship come to fruition. Organizations like the Quiet Gardens model templates of how to take these traits with you.
How to create a sacred space?
Lead with your heart and intuition, this is your space to do whatever is necessary for a restful, restorative and inspiring place. It will be okay to change it down the road. Your special space honors and celebrate life, fun and creativity. It is your catalyst and how you track the flow of nature. While you are the creator, you are also the caretaker, the observer and the storyteller. All traits that feed a part of your soul that appreciate the moment and needs care.
These are ideas on how to develop your space. Keeping it simple and the level of maintenance you can work with are important.
Do you like art? I love art in the garden; large or small, round, tall, swings, solid, there are so many choices. For simplicity, bonsai do it all. They are an art form, represent nature and are sacred. I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek. Once a good friend had me care for his bonsai. They all died under my watch. As my living space becomes smaller, I have begun looking at this wonderful art form. A post for another day.
Do you need to create privacy or boundaries? Trees in the ground or in containers. Physical structures like arbors, lattice fencing, or gates. Small spaces reduce stress. Create a garden room, any of the above tools will help.
What are your favorite scents? Plant for your senses. Do you like morning bloomers, mid-day or evening ones? We are a plant rich society, growers and information are available. Calming plants like rosemary, jasmine, daffodils produce delightful scents. You’ll need to learn each plants life-cycle (flowering time, maturity, etc. for best results)
Do you have favorite colors? Does your space need inspiration, add silver or a boost of energy as you go out for your day, add red. Use plants, containers, furniture, art or even the bird that visits your space. I have a tree frog or two, they are green and yellow with brown toes. Green for nature, yellow for communication (no idea what it is saying but I always say hi) and brown for the earth and to showcase the other colors of its body.
If you live in an area where there are seasonal changes celebrate them. My favorite season is fall, I always try to bring the reds and golds and hope they go partially into the beginning dark of winter. I am a tree person, the coral bark and paperbark maples transition in spectacular hues from fall to winter. The blues of conifers light up the twilight and the white bark of the birches catches the winter light just so until the sprouting of pink cherry trees signaled spring.
How do you get to your sacred space? Is it three steps or many steps, a winding path, a labyrinth or a maze? What material do you like gravel, sand, wood or trex? Add something that moves down your path; chimes, flags, seedpods, or grasses. Something that draws you to your sacred space. Place a seat or two to rest and let your journey of the day be put aside for a while. Let nature and your sacred space embrace you.