Tag Archives | plant combinations

Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – The Garden in Fall

 Helenium Coppelia Sanguisorba Aug 29 09

Here in Pennsylvania, fall has made an early appearance, before summer ever had much of a chance to settle in. But that’s fine by me, because autumn is definitely my favorite time of year in the garden. Sure, I can appreciate the glories of spring bulbs and ephemerals, as well as the beauty of mid-spring to early summer borders, but my own gardens get a much later start, not looking like much until late July or early August. I’ve found that, in many ways, creating a great late-season display is much easier than orchestrating an earlier show, partly because it gives me a lot more time to get my garden cleaned up and the annuals and tropicals  planted. And well, there are just so many possibilities for working color into the later-season garden. Continue Reading →

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Rhymes With Orange

Orange leaves 050-1

Mid July 09 140Last month I started my seasonal orange bender. It being the color of all kinds of wonderful things, from mangoes to sunsets to campfire embers. I can’t get enough of it–in the garden or elsewhere.  So I shared some of my favorite flowers and promised a return to the topic with a post on good leaves for orange themes. Here goes: Continue Reading →

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Anchoring Vignettes with Tropical Foliage

For the past several weeks, I have been poring over photos of the Gardens at the Bank of Springfield, scrutinizing this season’s plant combinations and working on my spring planting plan. I’ve come to appreciate the large percentage of annuals and tropicals used on the site. They are essential to the success of this 55-mph (Zone 5) landscape. Annuals ensure consistent bloom and vibrant color. In addition, the use of annuals provides me an opportunity not typically afforded designers of commercial landscapes: I am able to evaluate, revise and improve upon my design each season. Continue Reading →

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Gardening in Black and White

Like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve collected quite a few gardening books over the years – enough to fill a few bookcases. But a few of those books rarely spend much time on a shelf; instead, they’re usually in a pile somewhere near my desk, so they’re within easy reach when I need to take a break from the computer. One book I always keep nearby for inspiration and pure viewing pleasure is Andrew Lawson’s The Gardener’s Book of Color. I happened to pick it up the other day and was flipping through the Understanding Color chapter when I ran across a topic I hadn’t much thought about before: the role of tone in creating plant combinations. Continue Reading →

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Thinking in Three Dimensions


I love this plant combination. It’s got shape, texture and color – especially color – working for it. I wish I thought of it, because this little vignette pushed my thinking about creating color combinations more than anything I’ve seen in a long time. Wesley Rouse created it, and here’s why I find it so ingenious:  First there’s the elegant ground-covering combination of gold Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) and Plectranthus ‘Green on Green’, whose sharply contrasting shapes are united by their shimmering chartreuse and green hues. But then there’s that jolt of complementary color, those exquisite purple petals.  Where did they come from? Well, they literally fell out of the sky.  Planted in a pot and towering above the gold and green is a princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana), a tender shrub with fuzzy, silvery leaves and exquisitely beautiful—and equally fragile- purple flowers. Any time it rains or gets windy, those beauteous blossoms shatter like glass and the petals rain down on the garden below.  So Wesley planted that groundcover knowing it would provide a perfect color counterpoint for fallen princess flowers.  I thought that pretty clever. By planning for fallen flowers to have, so to speak, a last moment in the sun, Wesley’s taking the inevitable process of decay and showcasing it, transforming it into a thing of transitory beauty.  

I’ve since seen a similar scene, a late fall tableau, with bright red Japanese maple leaves creating an ankle-deep crimson carpet punctuated by the dark green foliage of hellebores rising through the fallen leaves. Wowsa!

Any other ideas?

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