Plant easy-to-grow colour

Gardening can be compared to creating a series of pictures. Imagine you are an artist and combine the flowers and foliage of colourful plants as an artist would mix paints up on a palette ready for the canvas.

This summer, dream up colour schemes with easy-to-grow plants for the garden. Discover which plants can be placed next to others to create a season of visual joy. Like any artist, mix colours in complementary shades for warmth, but combine opposite colours for impact. Plant up pale blue and white to emphasise distance in a garden or use a red flowering plant as a wildly exciting focal point.  

There is no end to your imagination when it comes to colour in the garden. Imagine planting a deep red climbing rose over a glorious white arch. Contemplate apricot roses in a large border surrounded by lavender bushes, heliotrope and catmint. 

Sunshine yellows

For an indigenous summer garden, there is nothing to beat a yellow and blue sunny border. At the simplest level, combine blue agapanthus with yellow bush daisies (Euryops spp.). You could be even more adventurous by planting up yellow pokers (Kniphofia spp.) and adding a touch of Gazania ‘Lemon Shades’. For a low maintenance dry spot, plant up the indigenous yellow and orange cat’s tail or burn jelly plant (Bulbine frutescens). For vertical interest, add the now wildly trendy pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) and soften the combination with mondo grass.

Euryops

Browallia

Singing the blues

If your favourite colour is blue, plant bold groups of dwarf, intermediate and tall agapanthus in all their glorious tints and tones of blue, and fill in with yellow marguerite daisies (Argyranthemum), day lilies and arctotis. More summer blues are found in plumbago, perennial salvias (Salvia farinacea) and annuals (browallia, lobelia and torenia).

Play with purple

Imagine shades of purple-flowering plants creating shadows among lemon flowers. Purple is also really pretty with pink and creates a subtle contrast with lime-green. There are many easy-to-grow lilac and purple flowering plants. Choose from the many roses (Angel Face, Blue Moon, Escapade, Lavender Girl, Magenta, Rhapsody in Blue, St. Katherines and Shocking Blue), shrubs (polygala, barleria, plectranthus, hebe, heliotrope), perennials (catmint, osteospermum, penstemon, nierembergia, physostegia and scabious) and annuals (petunia and ageratum cultivars). 

Hebe

Ageratum

Berberis

Revel in reds

Overdose in a wildly red garden by planting up red-flowering climbing roses against a background of the purple hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa). Add smaller shrubs such as the tea bush (Leptospermum spp.), berberis (Berberis thunbergii), rich red floribunda roses, velvety red snapdragons, satiny red dahlias, sultry red day lilies and dianthus. Less hectic than red, is a still hugely fashionable pink and white combination. The butterfly-like flowers of gaura are held on tall wiry stems, making them a useful plant for creating a light, ‘see-through’ effect in the summer garden. 

Repeat the pink and white theme with feathery astilbe, tall-growing spider flower (cleome), lavatera and cosmos, pink pentas, the elegant white bellflowers of indigenous galtonia and the subtly coloured pineapple flower (Eucomis spp.). The unusual flowers of heat-tolerant Osteospermum ‘Pink Spider’ make a charming edging to this romantic dream.

Leptospermum

Dianthus

Gaura lindheimeri

Vision of vegetables

Never forget the colours and architectural shapes to be found in a glorious summer kitchen garden. Many herbs and vegetables have colourful flowers and foliage that mix well together and when combined with flowers. Combinations can be made in the vegetable garden or more fashionably in your borders. Plain or frilly leafed lettuce, in shades of green and red, will fill gaps in borders and parsley resembles lime green lace.  

Cabbages can also be used as temporary fillers; those with red-purple leaves show up well with red flowers and grey foliage; blue-green cabbages introduce a contrast in form and texture with white roses, lavender, frilly white dianthus and silver-grey sage.

For the brave at heart, combine lime-green nicotiana with lettuce; orange and yellow peppers with yellow, apricot, pink and red stems of Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’; or ‘Ruby’ chard with red peppers, ruby-red lettuce and dark-leafed basil. 

Orange cosmos compliments blue-flowered borage, yellow sunflowers mix well with fennel, as do marigolds with lime-green lettuce. Another bright grouping would include yellow and orange day lilies with the ferny foliage of tansy and lime-green lettuce. 

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