Need some ideas for color in your annual flower garden design? Here are several color schemes, with examples of flowers and design hints.

An annual flower garden is a fun place to play with color, mainly because you can change it each year. Annuals die back at the end of each growing season, and need to be replaced every spring.

Color schemes can be warm, cool, or a combination of both. Warm colors are red, yellow, and orange. Cool colors are blue, purple, and green. I use a little white with any combination.

Basic garden design mandates taller plants in the back of a rectangular bed, or in the center, if it's a circular bed. Short plants are put in the front for the border, and medium height plants go in between.

Color needs to be spread throughout the garden. Don't restrict yellow to the back, red to the middle, and white to the front. (This sounds nauseating!) Each height needs each color that you have chosen. Say you choose a cool color scheme - blue, purple, green, and white. The tall plants can include blue bachelor buttons, white cosmos, and blue/violet ageratum. A blue morning glory could even climb above the garden. Medium height plants can be violet Love-in-a-mist, purple statice, and white nicotiana. Green coleus is an effective mid-height foliage plant. An appropriate border can consist of violet pansies, white alyssum, and deep blue lobelia.

A warm color scheme would include red, yellow and orange flowers. White always helps the intensity of such a plan. I love tall red and yellow snapdragons, yellow and orange calendula, and white bachelor buttons. the border of such a bed could be California poppies, yellow gazania, and white alyssum.

I love a blue and white garden. It's so cool, it feels like snow. Any blue and white flowers will do, as long as the heights are varied.

Another favorite of mine is a pink bed. Cosmos are good for this. It even reseeds itself each year. It comes in three shades of pink and white. Planted haphazardly, or allowed to reseed, this makes a beautiful bed.

The green garden can be the most interesting. Herbs are good for this, since their flowers are insignificant. The textures of their leaves is the important key to this type of garden. Vary the shapes and sizes of your plants for the most interest.

Once I saw an annual bed lining a driveway. It was completely red. Red salvia was the only plant in it. It definitely caught my eye, and made the driveway a dramatic entrance.

My all-time favorite garden, though, is the cottage-style garden. It has every color in it. A true cottage garden includes perennials and ornamental grasses. I love to combine all the colors: red, yellow, pink, purple, blue, white, orange, and green. I mix the proportions of these each year, but my favorite mix is a lot of blue, orange and yellow, with a hint of red and white. It's never dull, and never too hot or too cool.

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