Winning combinations come easy when you take color cues from plant details: buds, bark, stems, veins, flowers, and foliage are rich with clues. Leaves and blooms — even those that on first glance appear monochromatic — often have lots of variation. Take a close look at stems, stamens, or peer into a flower's eyes, and you'll see what I mean.
Repeating the color of your theme detail will lend focus to your overall planting scheme — the unifying thread that leads the eye and tells your story. Explore these planting combinations that celebrate these details, and be sure to follow the links for the plant combo recipe and further details.
FOCUS ON DETAILS
Even subtle color effects are accentuated when joined by a plant partner that calls it out. On first glance, one might look right past the pinkish-red veins lining the silver fronds of the eared lady fern, but when situated next to the vivid pink foliage of Heuchera ‘Georgia Plum’, as in the combo below, they jump right out. The new growth of Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Snow’ is nearly white against a bed of finely-textured, light blue foliage, and together with the fern will bring light to a shady spot in your garden.
Coppery bark of Acer griseum plays to the tips of the evergreen shrub, Nandina Sienna Sunrise™, and the effect is especially prominent in winter, when details take on new importance in the quietness of the season.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
The romantic, spring-to-summer blooming vignette pictured below was inspired by the dark eye of Verbascum ‘Jackie’ which really pops when paired with the deep purple globes of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and the intricate, bi-colored blooms of the old-fashioned dwarf iris.
As much as I love flowers, at heart I’m a foliage fanatic — I find the vast array of variations endlessly fascinating. The attraction is especially exhilarating in spring, when I’m primed and ready, hovering and watching for signs of life in the garden. As the promise of a new season literally unfurls before my eyes, lush and colorful foliage is everywhere, and each day brings new delights.
With some plants, you might not notice the wide range of colors it has on within their foliage or flower until a neighboring plant draws your attention to it, teasing out subtle differences. For example, Weigela My Monet™ is a true chameleon, its changeable nature dependent upon its foliage partner. In the two combos inserted below, you can see this in practice.
The tawny, bronze aspect of its colorful foliage is magnified when situated next to Rhododendron 'Teddy Bear'. Paired with the pink leaves of Heuchera 'Georgia Peach', rosy tones prevail. In both combos, the presence of silver to blue companions emphasizes the blue tones of its variegation. Keying off the mosaic of color on a variegated leaf or a multi-colored bloom as a starting point for building out a planting combination is an easy and fun way to get the hang of this combo-making technique.
CELEBRATE A MOMENT IN TIME
A conifer with flowers?! Well, not exactly – but sorta kinda. The dazzling juvenile growth of some shrubs is as colorful as any bloom. In spring, red buttons on the dwarf conifer, Picea pungens ‘Ruby Teardrops’, are as showy as flowers, and the flush of coral-pink new foliage on Pieris japonica ‘Flaming Silver’ resemble star-shaped blooms. The intense coloring of each plays well with the rich tones of the Heuchera.
In the bottom two vignettes of this section, the flower-like effect of emerging foliage is as effective as blooms, especially when juvenile foliage is fresh and at its most colorful.
Focus: Contrasting Foliage and Texture, Foliage First, Low Maintenance, Mixed Border, Seasonal Flow, Winter Interest
Exposure: Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun
Zone: 6, 7, 8
FLOWERS ARE FUN TOO
The appreciation of foliage is the heart and soul of a huge percentage of the planting combinations on our site, but we love flowers too, and these combos prove it! These two vignettes feature fiery blooms that say, “Bring on the heat!” all summer long.
Focus: Contrasting Foliage and Texture, Color Theme, Flower Fest, Low Maintenance, Wildlife Friendly
Exposure: Full Sun, Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 8, 9, Annual