News: May 25, 2009
What colours make a garden beautiful? What colours match and what colours clash? How can a flowerbed be planned based on scientific colour theory? Researcher Nina Nilsson is finding the answers to these questions. She is the first person in the world to earn a doctorate in the colour composition of flowerbeds.
The colours of plants have fascinated mankind for thousands of years. The colour of a plant not only tells what kind of plant it is, colours are also linked to emotions and memories. Plant colours can therefore be thought of in a biological, a cultural and an esthetical perspective.
Colour is a foundation of horticulture, and is probably the strongest determinant of how a flowerbed or a garden is perceived. Yet, few scientific studies have focused on the colour composition of flowerbeds - until now.
Nina Nilsson, Faculty Subjects Coordinator for Conservation, Gardening and Garden Design, the Department of Conservation/Dacapo at the University of Gothenburg, is probably the first person in the world to conduct scientific research on colour composition of flowerbeds. She bases her research on two standard works: UK gardening pioneer Gertrude Jekyll's book 'Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden', which remains a best-seller almost 100 years after first being published, and Swiss Johannes Itten's 'Kunst der Farbe', which established 'Itten's colour theory'.
By applying Itten's colour theory on Jekyll's planting design schemes, Nilsson is attempting to scientifically document the principles that bring harmony and beauty to a flowerbed. Nilsson has tested the theories by for example analysing the colour compositions of a number of flower borders in the Gothenburg area. 'My research has a pedagogical purpose. I want my work to provide guidance on how to choose and arrange flowers in a garden', says Nilsson.
Nilsson's experience of gardening and garden design is quite extensive, and she has also worked with biotope studies and park design. In addition, she has been compiling what she calls 'the gardener's knowledge portfolio'. Nilsson will present some findings from her research at an international gardening conference in Bologna in June.
Nina Nilsson, researcher at the Department of Conservation at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
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