COLOUR

This is an extremely important factor in designing plant communities in urban landscapes. Although tall green, grassy vegetation is not regarded very positively, Dai (2000) found that when colour is added to the scene the negative effect of height was cancelled out. Maximising the flowering impact of naturalistic herbaceous vegetation is a key means of maintaining public support. This requires these plant communities to be visually more dramatic than the semi-natural stereotypes upon which they are often based. This involves a departure from the tenets of restoration ecology, where the goal is to achieve a community that represents what species should be there. This is often most readily achieved in designed naturalistic vegetation by leaving out, or greatly reducing, the grass component, or managing the site post-sowing to eliminate or reduce grass abundance. It is also often desirable to abandon learnt ascetic theories on the use of colour in designed plantings in the public realm. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, there is little evidence that the general public do not like the brash colour combinations that lie outside those cherished by gardening writers, such as Jekyll (1908), Hobhouse (1985), and Pope and Pope (1998). These are clearly the learnt values of an elite, and do not represent any fundamental aesthetic truths. Secondly, even the most brutal colour combinations are visually much less shocking (even to people of ‘good’ taste) in naturalistic vegetation than in traditional block-like planting.