Fundamental to any design made by the florist is the choice of colour. Colour si very emotive and affects so much of what we see. Feasts and festivals are associated with certain colours: for example, a traditional Christmas design will be red and green. Red is also associated with St Valentine's Day, Easter with yellows.
 Sometimes requests are for specific orders such as an arrangement for a golden wedding made with yellow or gold flowers, possibly adding a gold bow. A funeral tribute for a grandmother would be made with pink or pale lilac tones, unless otherwise stated, but for a teenager a stronger color harmony would be more suitable.
  Color can be vibrant and give a feeling or warmth and life; It can also be gentle and soft, producing a feeling of serenity and calm. Color can interpret and relay a message. The red rose is used as a messenger of love, while a pink indicates young love. Each of us sees colour slightly differently but good color choice is vital to the success of a design.
Recognised color harmony is based on the twelve-color wheel, made up by the following, which are referred to as true color hues:
Each of the 12 hues is altered by the
addition of white, grey or black 

 A very good exercise to develop your understanding of how colors are derived is to contstuct your own color wheel using watercolor paints. You will need  the three primary colors - red, blue and yellow - and also black, white and grey ( black and white mixed).
 Make a circle with white card and divide it into twelve segments; then make three circles dividing each segment into four sections to allow for the hue, tint, tone and shade of each color. Mix the paints to give the correct colors in each segment.
 Once the color wheel is constructed, individual cut-outs can be made for each color harmony and when the cut-out is placed over the wheel a color harmony is instantly recognised.


An understanding of basic color schemes is very important, increasing the awarness of color relationships, There are nine recognised harmonies, which are as follows.

This harmony is based on tints, tones and shades chosen from the complete color wheel. It is a very popular choice in modern floristry.

  This is the name for colors which have weak chrome and are therefore neutral. As they do not impinge on a color scheme, they are ideal for containers, bases and drapes which are not intended as focal areas of a design display. The colors are black, white, grey, beige and stone.
  Neutral colors are often take on the surrounding color. White is a classic example. If a selection of white flowers is made, it will be seen that there are many shades of white, as most white flowers have a very pale tint of color in them. It may be thought that the white of an arum lily is a pure white, but when put against a white fabric it appears slightly green. A white rose set against a bright white satin will appear to be cream but against a red background it will look slightly pink.
 This takes us on to juxtaposition, which comes from the word "juxtapose", to put things side by side: colors as seen by the human eye alter depending on what colors are beside them.
  Colors set against mid grey is always seen at its truest because it does not absorb any other color and this is why flowers look so well in a grey container or against grey drape or backcloth. When red is set against grey, the grey appears to  take on a greenish hue, the red appearing purer and less orange. When orange and grey are placed side by side, the grey appears to become more blue and orange is less yellow. If a rose-pink flowers is used with purple, it looks lavender-pink, but when placed next to cream the pink stands out and is more intense.

The amount of white, black or grey in a color will change the degree of lightness or heaviness of the color, hence the terms hues, tints and tones and shades.
 Pure yellow is light and uplifting, whereas dark green or violet sombre and heavy.
 Colors of equal intensity and weight visially do not complement each other, althrough in some modern design they can be used successfully. An arrangement of deep purple chrysanthemums and dark green foliage will appear very heavy, dull and sombre, whereas a lighter version of the purple mixed in with perhaps some variegated leaves will be much more interesting and appealing.
  In any floristry design the darker flowers should be recessed, the design and lighter flowers should be used in the outline, If there are darker flowers on the outline and lighter flowers recessed, the design will appear to be visually unbalanced, because darker color looks heavier to the eye.
  Color distribution of small areas of pure color (grouping material) is much easier on the eye and generates more interest than strong overall color, which is visually too harsh and tiring. It is a good idea in any color scheme to use fewer stronger colors and more of the paler ones. However, it should be noted that the florist with a lot of experience can experiment with unusual color weighting, particularly in continental design and create very dramatic effects.
 If a design is to be made using all one color, then shapes and textures should be considered to generate interest: for example, an all-foliage design should have glossy, shiny, dull and velvety-textured leaves, as well as different shapes. If all the same shape, color and texture were used, it would appear very dull and boring to the eyes.

   In a design a color should be taken through from one side to the other grouped in blocks,ensuring that an equal amount of different color is used to counterbalance. If color is not grouped it will appear blobby and disorganised to the eye.
  Ribbons on a design should always complement or tone. A ribbon which is a completely different color and not related in any way to the design will look totally wrong. In a based funeral design, ribbons on the sprays should be the same color as on the ribbon edge.

 This is the term used for the degree of light emitted from a color. The lightest color is pure yellow. In planning the decoration of large areas such as churches, or hotel entrances, thought should be given to the amount of light available, as these venues are often dark, and lighter-coloured flowers should be used if they are to be easily seen.
 The lighter colors are referred to as advancing colors. These include yellow, white, bright orange, lime green, pale pinks and peach colors. Tints have a higher luminosity than shades and tones , which contain grey  or black.
 Blues, violets, dark greens, rust colors and deep reds have a low luminosity and are referred to as receding colors. They should be avoided in big displays in churches and large areas viewed from a distance. These colors can be used within a display which includes lighter-colored flowers but avoid using them as outline flowers, as they will be lost.
 When viewing a church for a wedding, it is important to keep in mind the time and day and the season. If the church is lit artificially, this will change the color of the flowers, especially if candlelight is used, and the interior will look totally different from the way it would appear on a bright sunny morning. If there is no sunlight coming in the windows, the color and shape of the display placed in front of them will be altered.
 When deciding on colors for flowers in a marquee, remember that pink will become peach and blues become mauves. It is also important to take into account the color of the marquee lining when deciding on a color scheme.
 All these situations alter color drastically.

Color can be very exciting and it is always worth experimenting. It is a very personal thing and everyone has different ideas about which color goes with another. It is a good idea to stick to recognized color schemes in commercial work unless you have discussed any unusual harmonies with customers. Design and competitive work, on the other hand, gives a lot of scope for experimentation with color.
 A pink rose in a bud will appear to be pale; when it reaches its peak it will be slightly  darker, and when it starts to mature it will become even darker. At each stage of maturity the color will change slighly. This is the case with many flowers.
 A monochromatic hand-tied design might include "Nicole" roses, nerines, "Montreux" lilies, hypericum and "Dark Flamenco" chrysanthemums.
 Lovely rich color appeals to some people, a combination of paler varieties to others: wax flowers, "Starlight" gerbera, pale pink eustoma, "Le reve" lillies and "Evelien" roses.
 Consider putting the first group with pale peach. Exchange the "Nicole" rose for a "Gerdo" rose, and substitute  chrysanthemum"Dark Flamenco" for "Salmon reagan". This is unusual color harmony but the rich burgundy color with peach looks very good. It's all a question of trying out different color schemes and making them work.
 A very effective harmony is to put pale peach, pale lavender, pale pink and pale yellow together. This has been done and it looks wonderful, but as previously said it's all a matter of choice.

Most foliage available in the markets is green in color. There is also a vast range of foliage that may be sourced locally, and if you can find some "tame" gardens which need a prune every so often, this will give a wider scope to your foliage and twigs. Cornus in winter has lovely red, yellow or deep burgundy stems, depending on the variety, and can add color in a different way. Pot plants are a good source for individual leaves. Begonia rex looks very good in a bridal bouquet based on predominantly pink flowers, and croton leaves add interest to  a limited flower bouquet using yellow or orange gerbera.
 A large glass vase filled with "Professor Blaauw" irises and gerbera "Tamara"m using large fatsia leaves at the base and some yellow cornus twigs, could look stunning in the correct setting.

   It is important to visit a venue before deciding on a color scheme. The customer may want a  particular color harmony, but if on seeing the venue you find that the decor of the room is totally unsuitable for the desired color scheme, then it is advisable to discuss this with the customer, who may be totally unaware that the colors do not look well together.
 Sometimes a hotel or restaurant will have a set color for table linen. If it is a wedding reception or private party, the customer can ask for specific colors as long as they are not way out. If in doubt, though, it is best to stick to white table linen to which any color can be added effectively.
 Often a bride will want to carry a color scheme through to match the bridal party. If there is a conflict, it is better to decorate the reception area with flowers which are in harmony with the decor rather than the bridal flowers. A venue will always look ten times more attractive if the displays are in keeping with the surrounding  color scheme than at odds with it. 
 Color can be used to great effect when doing promotional work for a special season. Blocks of color have much more impact in a window display than lots of colors used in a muddled fashion.
 Flowers in the shop look very effective if displayed in containers which are all the same color. preferably green or neutral stone or grey, as this allows the flowers themselves to attract the eye.
 Cutflowers are more attractive to the eye if displayed in blocks of one color. They need to be kept in one area of the shop but can be displayed with sudries in the same color scheme.
 Red flowers can be displayed in an area where there are red containers, candles, balloons, etc. and blue flowers can be displayed with blue glasses. The color in the shop will have far more impact on the customer if arranged in this way.
 If there is a promotion on basketware the displays could be silk and dried in a monochromatic harmony. Lots of different colors are worrying to the eye and distract from the product. Imagine a window or an area of the shop displaying terracotta ware filled with artificial sunflowers and dried fruits.