Jewel Tones in the Garden

Tiny Flower by Vien Vo  

I love the term 'jewel tones'.  It sounds like crystalline music: "the singer's jewel tones soared through the atmosphere..."

Jewel tones are rich colors with a high level of saturation. They are bold and distinctive.

Their vibrancy resembles the color of gemstones, such as emerald green, amethyst purple, ruby red, topaz yellow, sapphire blue, tourmaline green, and turquoise blue. They excites us. Many artists like these saturated colors.

In fashion, jewel tones never go out of style..they are the clear, pure colors that people with a 'winter' skin coloring should wear. Some folks just look fab in purple, magenta and royal blue. Photo above is courtesy of Team Sugar.


Gardens featuring jewel tones are very alluring. They are bright and elegant but be careful : rich colors must be used in moderation or your garden can become an overbearing cacophony rather than a scintillating song....

very bright
But done right, clear, vibrant color is a winner. Even in a quiet Japanese garden this violet/magenta azalea looks great! photo by Mark Windom.

Mark Windom photography

Jewel tones fit a poolscape beautifully – a swimming pool in full sun in mid-summer is the perfect setting for these powerful colors.  You can include them in your plantings or in pool furniture, in pots and planter colors or in your pool tile...Here is the infinity pool tile at the Jade Mountain spa in St Lucia.The colorful pool tiles sparkle brilliantly under the clear water.

Bright colors near a pool always look great. I planted a riot of yellow flowers here to counteract the blue pool that I designed and my company installed.

Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Pair saturated colors for a dazzling effect. For example, complimentary amethyst purple and topaz yellow are great together.  But make sure that both are equally rich in color or one will overwhelm the other. Even red and magenta looks good but the white certainly helps to cool it down, like below.

Hollyhocks and foxglove

A garden dressed in jewel tones sparkles like no other. In my landscapes I contrast deeply saturated hues with foliage plants. For example, this photo illustrates Impatiens 'Blue Bayou' mixed with the broad, green leaves of hosta and the whitish cast of Japanese Painted Fern.

You could also plant coneflower (Echinacea). It is a summer flowering perennial and comes back every year.

Echinacea by Howker

I also love the clear colors of deciduous azaleas, specifically the Northern Lights hybrids.  Here is 'Apricot Surprise' - a Northern Lights hybrid. Plants are 4 feet tall with doubled flowers of a distinct apricot-peach tone.  This planting is in a wooded area and is set against a leafy green backdrop. This makes all the difference when you want a color to pop out!  It's not so much the color as the effectiveness of the background.

Even autumn leaves can be a colorful palette. Like in this photo below.

So consider using jewel tones in your garden this year! Btw, I have a whole chapter about color in the garden in my book, "Heaven is a Garden" .


  1. What a wonderful, warming post to read in January. So glad to find your blog!

    1. and Amy Campion I am very glad to make your internet acquaintance. you have a great garden blog.

  2. A lovely blog and beautiful images - a pleasure to read!

    1. Thanks Richard! sharing the best way I know how....I really appreciate your comments!

  3. I adore those jewel tones in your garden.I wish i could have a garden as beautiful as yours.
    This is really an inspiring post.


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Getting in the 'Flow' by Gardening

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen