Saturday Inspiration ~ Garden as Palette



A balanced bed brings together plants with similar-sized blossoms in complementary colors — dahlias, coreopsis, and salvia, for instance — punctuated by foliage that brings its own color and texture.

When planning your plantings, pairing flowers and plants by color family can yield beautiful results.

by Lindsey Taylor

A riot of color can be a disaster in the garden, or it can be a thing of beauty. It’s all about how it’s handled.

The plantings of the late English gardener Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter were testament to his masterful ability to play with color. He took on color combining with confidence and never thought about what was tasteful or in fashion. “I have a constant awareness of colour and of what I am doing, but if I think a yellow candelabrum of mullein will look good rising from the middle of a quilt of pink phlox, I’ll put it there,” Lloyd said on the Great Dixter website. But most of us are not as skilled. Next time you’re at the nursery staring down foliage and flowers both variegated and wildly varied, bear the following tips in mind. They’ll help you bring vibrance to your garden or containers without creating clichés or clashes of color.

Brandywine Cottage, Downingtown, PA

For a palette of cool colors, try planting a mixture of lavender, nepeta, pink foxglove, and white iris.

Chanticleer, Wayne, PA

Hot-colored flowers in reds, oranges, deep yellows, and strong pinks look great together, especially when you select plants with similar size blooms. Try orange tulips and fuchsia strawflowers, set off by the deep-purple foliage of a potato vine or even purple-leafed edible greens like those bordering the container above.

Atlock Farm, Somerset, NJ

For another warm-tone option, combine large interesting foliage like cannas, elephant ear, and the spiky leaves of phormium (New Zealand flax) in shades of purple, green, and red.

For mail-order plants, try these sources:
Annie’s Annuals & Perennials
Plant Delights Nursery
Digging Dog Nursery

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