When the color purple flows outdoors--onto walls, plants, pots and garden seats--the results can be dramatic. "It's the most passionate color," says Venice landscape designer Jay Griffith. "It combines the richness and melancholy of the deepest blue with an impressionistic subtlety." He proves his point with this small Venice patio, once a utility yard strung with laundry lines and facing the blank wall of a garage.
Painting the wall lilac, Griffith turned it into a backdrop for an eye-catching cast of planted and potted greens. From elsewhere on the property, he brought a scattering of old yuccas and regrouped them here, their leaning trunks and spiky heads now casting long shadows on the wall. Aloes and agaves have the same effect, and so do four queen palms ( Arecastrum romanzoffianum ) planted at each corner of the scored concrete patio. When they grow tall enough, the palms will anchor a canvas canopy that will shade the area from the hot afternoon sun.
Meanwhile, rosea ice plant, Mexican bush sage ( Salvia leucantha ), 'Rosenka' bougainvillea and ivy geraniums ( Pelargonium peltatum ) thrive in the heat, and giant pots in grape, violet and lavender add exotic color. Says Griffith: "We painted them the most lurid shades we could find in that same family--colors so rich and vibrant they make your teeth hurt."