Colour Combos

Colour preference is intensely personal for everyone. What one person loves another loathes. If you’re an artist or designer, you will be familiar with the colour wheel and the theory behind complimentary and adjacent colours and how to combine them to create pleasing patterns. In the end what really matters is that you love what you are looking at every day. In the garden, colours can be hot, ideal for hot sunny climates as paler colours wash out or pastel, ideal for more northern, misty climates. Cools and hots can be combined to create pops of colour that draw your eye through the garden. If you stuck in the garden centre trying to pick out something, think of what you have in your home. Are you a bright extrovert with a red dining room or a serene yogi with pale cream walls? Bring that out into your garden to make you dance with joy or relax in meditation 🙂 Fill your cart with colour and see if you like how it looks.

Here are some colour combos for summer impact in your garden. Just remember to pick the right plant for the spot, ie sun lovers for that hot open spot and shade lovers under the trees.

hot combo

Hot pink wave petunias, deep purple salvia and gold rudbeckias are cooled by cream petunias and a peegee hydrangea. Later the hydrangea blossoms will deepen with pink shades to reflect the petunias. Wave petunias are wonderful for massing in the garden. Each plant can reach 4 by 4 feet will provide nonstop colour from early summer to frost. They also come in almost every shade from cool white to dark purples.

impatiens in the shade

Nothing beats impatiens for brightening up a shady spot. The mostly pastel colours are perfect for shade as they seem to “advance” to the eye and can be seen from a distance. Dark colours like red and blues recede and fade into the gloom.

My favourite colour pairing is still blues/purples and yellow. Yellow and purple are complementary colours on the colour wheel and make each other stand out. If you use both strong shades, the effect can be a bit much. Here the softer lavender of the perovskia really make the yellow ratibia blooms pop out as accents. The hazy tan flowers of calamagrostis “Karl Foerster” provide the perfect backdrop for this classic sunny border combo. Blue is complementary to orange but all four mix well together.

phlox and coreopsis

Not many people are sure about pink and yellow but I actually like the two together. Again one strong and one softer shade is easier on the eye than two strong. The sunny yellow coreopsis and hot pink petunias are softened by the pale phlox who’s pink eye echoes the colour of the petunias and brings the whole scheme together.

This is my first year using wave petunias in my designs and I am really impressed by them. Here frothy white and shades of blue petunias flow down a gentle slope like a waterfall with fountains of variegated miscanthus grass and airy sprays of perovskia spilling over the top.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour in your garden. It will lift your mood, make you happy and there’s always next year if it doesn’t work out quite right!

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Happy gardening 🙂


4 thoughts on “Colour Combos

  1. I’m guilty of not thinking of colour combinations so my garden is a bit of a jumble, but most plants seem to look ok together. The Rudbeckia/Russian Sage combo above I find very attractive.


  2. Are those impatiens the newer cultivars that are resistant to mildew? We got some at work, but I don’t know what they are. They look like the common types that we used to grow before mildew became such a limiting problem. Yet, they are doing rather well.


    1. I don’t know but this is the first year I have seen them in the garden centres in Ontario for a long time, so maybe :). Hopefully they are because I have always liked them and my clients had asked why they were gone.

      Liked by 1 person

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