Contrasting Colours in Gardens and Containers

Contrasting colours rather than complementary ones make a bigger impact in your garden. Most people tend to opt for complementing colors when choosing plants. I always tell my clients remember, you are not wearing the plants, they do not have to match!

Choose colours that are opposite (not next to) each other on the colour wheel to create some drama:

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Use Colour Contrasts in Containers Too

I love using coleus in containers for the wide range of contrasting colour in their foliage. Straight from the nursery, choose from the many options in contrasting colour combinations within the same plant! The chartreuse green of creeping jenny or sweet potato vines make the red tones of the coleus pop in your creations:

For full sun containers, I tend to go for purple, pink, red, blue and yellow for the “fillers” and “spillers.” Their bright colours look so summery and vivid against the various shades of green which are perfect backdrops for “thrillers” and additional “spillers.”

Choose Perennials with Contrasting Flower Colours but the Same Bloom Time

When choosing perennials for your garden beds, instead of picking matching colours, try selecting contrasting colours in plants that bloom at the same time. For example, this yellow ligularis in front of a purple clematis creates a much more eye-catching scenario than two yellow or two purple plantings.

contrasting colours
ligularis and clematis

Another great example in my yard is my collection of daylilies I have in a raised bed at the side of my house. From dark wine-red to pale peach, they are contrasting yet compliment each other beautifully!

Foliage with Contrasting Colours

Another trick to make individual plants stand out is to place contrasting foliage colours next to or in front of each other. An example here is the leaves of a purple smoke tree (that just had a haircut so will soon be much taller) behind (right now it looks like it’s inside) the bright green leaves of a hydrangea.

contrasting colours
purple smoke tree and hydrangea

Try some new contrasting combinations in your garden to create some drama. Be sure to send me pictures of your combinations.

Remember, forget the matchy-matchy look, you are not wearing the plants!

June Blooms in Gardens4me

In my Gardens4u business I design gardens based on the wishes and dreams of my clients. In a moment of silliness, as I was waiting for Premier Ford to allow me to get back into those gardens, I painted Gardens4me on the archway over the gate to my own backyard garden. That’s because they have been created according to my taste and no one else’s. My personal oasis of sorts.

My own gardens are created just the way I love gardens….the style I aim for is called English Cottage Garden. I like when the plants, predominantly perennials with a shrub here and there, blend together, looking like they belong together. It takes a loooooong time to achieve this effect and is never quite “done.” I am always tweaking the look, moving, dividing and adding plants as I see fit. Although purple is my favourite colour in the garden (can you tell?) I do try to add contrasting colours to make each bloom “pop.” A variety in foliage shades and textures is a must too for my desired effect.

The following gallery of pictures is from my backyard. It seems the garden gets bigger each year and the lawn shrinks…

When we moved into this home years ago, the south-facing front yard was in full sun, but a dwarf blue spruce turned out not so dwarf, so I get part sun there now. This allows for a wider variety of plants…

These pictures were snapped just after a rainfall, that’s when they look the lushest. Although we have had an usually hot June with very little rain (my lawn is already looking parched), next month the real heat lovers (roses and lilies) will be the feature…….stay tuned!

To Knot or Not to Knot

What do you do with the unsightly foliage from your spring bulbs once their flowers fade and the petals fall off? Experts say you are supposed to leave the foliage intact until it turns yellow allowing the bulbs to store energy for next spring.

I tend to plant my bulbs amongst perennials that will grow taller than the bulb foliage so it will not be visible while waiting for it to wilt and die off.

Others tie the foliage into knots. I had not heard of this trick until recently when a client asked me to knot hers. I did as requested, and it looked quite neat and tidy, but I don’t think will look so nice when they start to yellow.

If you do decide to knot the foliage, the trick (I learned this after several attempts) is to restrict each knot to just a few leaves.

Do you knot or not?

Watering your Garden and Lawn: When and How

drought conditions

In drought conditions like we have been experiencing here in the Ottawa (and most of Ontario) area, it is important that you know how and when to water your garden and lawns if you feel you must do so.

  • water plants in your garden at ground level, at the base of the plants.  Don’t spray the leaves of plants.  The hot sun will burn the wet foliage. (see pictures below)
  • water early in the morning or just before sunset so the water does not evaporate as quickly as it leaves your hose.
  • water well less frequently.  A long soak every few days is much better than a quick daily spray.  This encourages deep roots for your plants (and lawns too)
  • don’t forget to water your trees too.  Let water drip from a hose at the base of the tree for an hour when no rainfall is received for 4 or 5 hot days.
  • remember, lawns will recover, but many plants and trees will not

photo credit