Colour in the Garden

How colourful can your garden be? What are the perfect colour combinations to add character and cohesion to your borders and containers? Following on from her popular blog, Ruby Simpson, Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt Planting Designer, is going to treat us to monthly suggestions of colour combinations for your garden.

If you want to refresh your memory, you can read the full blog by clicking here. Otherwise, scroll down and read this month’s suggestion!

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Monthly Suggestions


Evenings are getting shorter and mornings are getting darker, meaning September is here! However, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are still so many plants that want to flower their little heads off all the way into autumn! The range of flower colour is vast, even now, but I have decided to opt for pinks and blues, with a touch of white for my September suggestions…


For my September palette, I have chosen a jolly mix of long-flowering perennials, loved by pollinators. Verbena hastata ‘Blue Spires’ is tall and elegant like it’s popular cousin Verbena bonariensis. It flowers from mid-summer well into autumn. Echinacea purpurea is an absolute bee magnet and she looks equally at home growing in a prairie-style border as she does in a classic herbaceous border. Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ has an incredible scent, and grows up to about 90cm tall – another plant for the bees and butterflies! 

Anemone ‘Pamina’ has lovely mid-pink flowers throughout late summer and autumn. Hylotelephium (syn. Sedumspectabile is always alive with insects as the domed panicles of flowers create a brilliant landing pad for pollinators. Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Monarda ‘Pink Supreme’ (also known as ‘bee balm’) are both perfect for pollinators and flower into October. Aster ‘Monch’ is covered in beautiful blue daisy flowers from the start of September and the spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Alba’ flower from August into October. Veronicastrum ‘Cupid’ is a lovely addition to the back of a border with her slender racemes of flowers and, last but not least, Penstemon ‘Rich Ruby’ who has dark pink flowers that keep going into November if it stays mild.


There are some lovely late-flowering shrubs out there – here are a few pink, white and blue options. Buddleja ‘Pink Cascade’, (aka ‘butterfly bush’) as you would imagine, attracts huge amounts of butterflies and grows to around 1.5m. Abelia grandiflora is a real gem – she flowers for weeks and weeks, and is evergreen, so brings a bit of greenery to a winter garden! Hebe ‘Blue Clouds’ is a small evergreen shrub and flowers from midsummer to autumn. Finally, Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ is a deciduous shrub with silvery-green foliage and purple-blue flowers and grows to around a metre tall.

Enjoy the peace that September brings when the children go back to school, and really make the most of your garden in this last stretch of warmer weather! Have dinner parties on the patio and picnics on the lawn and fill your borders with beautiful September colour.

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Top:Echinacea purpurea, Verbena hastata ‘Blue Spires’, Hylotelephium spectabile, Cayopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’,

Middle: Aster ‘Monch’, Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Alba’, Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’, Anemone ‘Pamina’

Bottom: Buddleja’Pink Cascade’, Agastache ‘Blue fortune’, Penstemon ‘Rich Ruby’, Abelia x grandiflora, Monarda ‘Pink Supreme’

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing


Here we are in month eight already! August is jam-packed with beautiful, vibrant colours! This month, I have selected lots of deep pinky-reds and dark purples that flower for months on end! My August palette covers the whole summer, starting in April and continuing into November.


Starting with the purples and blues – a gorgeous perennial that has rich purple flowers from June to August, Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’. It likes full sun and grows to around 70cm high, this is a great addition to any border. Pop into our Plant Centre to see it in all its glory, planted in the Tin Barn borders! Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ is an evergreen perennial with purpley-green foliage, growing up to around 80cm and very happy in full sun or in full shade! Penstemon ‘Raven’ is a great flowerer – starting in June and continuing until the first frosts. If the winter isn’t too harsh it even holds onto its foliage! Geranium ‘Rozanne’, likes sun or part shade and she flowers all summer long. Verbena bonariensis is tall and wafty – she could easily go at the back of the border and still be seen, but because of her delicate appearance, you could dot her through the middle of the border for a bit of extra height and interest without her blocking any other plants from view. She flowers from July to October and although not perennial, will self-seed all over the place, so is unlikely to disappear. Echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’ will grow up to 90cm and will be smothered in bees! A brilliant plant for pollinators and its spikey-looking globe-shaped flowers add texture to your planting. My final offering for the blues is Eryngium ‘Blue Hobbit’, whose fuzzy little green and blue flower heads look great at the front of the border! He also has taller cousins who go beautifully amongst grasses.

Onto the pinks and reds – Helenium ‘Helena Red’ (amongst many other varieties) is a lovely mid-border plant, growing up to 80cm and flowering its head off from July to September. Achillea ‘Summer Wine’ can get to a similar size and flowers from June to August. Astrantia ‘Claret’ is gorgeous dark pink and is happy in sun or part shade and flowers June to August. Sangiusorba tanna is a lovely companion for any grasses you may have in your borders, with flowers like tiny burgundy eggs bobbing about in the breeze. Sanguisorba would look at home in prairie planting, or amongst a mixed border.


Bees and butterflies absolutely adore Buddleja ‘Black Knight’. Growing to 3m and happy in sun or part-shade, this beautiful shrub will keep the pollinators fed from July to September! Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ grows to 4m tall and flowers from April to August. Calycanthus is happy at the back of a sunny border.


Two plants that I had to include for their charming flowers are Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ and Dahlia ‘Chat Noir’. Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ flowers from June to September, grows to 3.5m and enjoys full sun or dappled shade. This Clematis looks especially gorgeous when grown through pale pink or white climbing roses, such as ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ or ‘Generous Gardener’! Dahlia ‘Chat Noir’ flowers from July to November as well as most of his charming Dahlia friends. He looks delightful planted through a sunny border, but I personally love a huge bunch of cut Dahlias, so if you have a space for a cutting garden – why not give it a go? Dahlias grow from corms that need lifting and drying in the winter, so are much more involved than your average bulbs – but arguably worth the effort for the stunning display!

Enjoy your holidays if you’re going away, and enjoy the fabulous weather in your August garden if you are staying at home. I’ll be back with some more plant enthusiasm in September!

Until next month, happy planting!

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Top: Helenium ‘Helena Red’, Verbena bonariensis, Achillea ‘Summer Wine’, Echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’, Dahlia ‘Chat Noir’

Middle: Eryngium ‘Blue Hobbit’, Astrantia ‘Claret’, Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’, Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’, Buddleja ‘Dark Knight’

Bottom: Sanguisorba tanna, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Euphorbia Purpurea, Clematis ‘Etoile Violettes’, Penstemon ‘Raven’

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing


Long hot days, barbeques, holidays and summer storms – July has come around alarmingly quickly! Prairie-style planting (one of my favourite styles!) really starts to look amazing in July. The grasses, and flower spikes and dots of vibrant colour seem to add to the hazy atmosphere of bright sunny days and lazy summer evenings. I haven’t included any roses or shrubs this time (unless you count the subshrub, Perovskia), and have decided just to concentrate on a combination of perennials and grasses that lend themselves to the prairie look.


What a lot of choice! You can achieve so much texture and colour with the right mix of grasses. Stipa tennuissima is so soft and swishy it’s hard to resist running your fingers through it, and the pretty pink plumes of Miscanthus ‘Flamingo’ will certainly add interest to any border.

In my prairie palette I have included four of my favourites:

  • Deschampsia cespitosa – unfussy and low-maintenance with fluffy, arching spikelets throughout summer and evergreen leaves. This one can get pretty tall (1.5m), but it’s so light and airy it doesn’t feel oppressive in a border.
  • Anemanthele lessoniana is evergreen with tinted rusty orange and green foliage that looks fantastic when planted with bright pink and dark purple flowers.
  • Molinia caerulea has a lovely, low, soft, arching mound of green foliage, similar to that of Hakonechloa macra. Molinia sends up tall, delicate plumes of flowers in summer, which I also find to be attractive when added to bunches of flowers cut from the garden.
  • Seslaria autumnalis, flowers all the way into in autumn! White flower spikes with mid-green foliage that becomes bright green in autumn. Happy in sun or light shade. All the aforementioned grasses are fully hardy in the UK.


I have chosen bright and dark pinks, deep purples and a couple of blue hues to mix with the grasses to create a sultry, moody feel to this prairie mix. It’s also worth noting that all of the perennials I have chosen are loved by bees and butterflies! Let’s kick off with Knautia macedonica, from the same family as Cephalaria (giant scabious), Scabiosa (pin-cushion flower/ scabious) and Dipasacus (teasel) all of which look equally great in a prairie setting! Knautia’s deep pink flowers bob around amongst the grasses adding little pops of colour throughout the planting.

Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum is a beautiful monster, often achieving up to three metres in height. If you resist the urge to be tidy and leave them uncut for the winter, they also provide a food source for birds. Stachys ‘Hummelo’ is covered with bright pink flower spikes all summer long. Agastache ‘Black Adder’ is another all-summer-long flowerer, with dark blue flowers spikes, growing to around 90cm.

Achillea ‘Cerise Queen’ started flowering in early summer and is still going strong now. It has feathery green foliage and flat heads of flowers which make a perfect landing-pads for various pollinators! They are happy in full sun or dappled shade and thrive in almost any soil – you can’t go far wrong with this plant.

Salvia ‘Purple Rain’ is one from my huge list of favourites and the bumble bees agree with me – they absolutely love it! Spikes of purple flowers with large leaves (for a Salvia) – plant at the front of a border so they can stretch their long floppy stems out – you could certainly support them, but I quite like them to relax into their surroundings.

Also, who doesn’t love a Prince reference? Perovskia is tall and graceful with lilac flowers and fragrant foliage – I’m still unsure what I think of the scent, but each to their own…

And finally Lythrum salicaria ‘Robert’ is very similar to it’s wild cousin Purple Loosestrife who grows on the banks of streams on ponds tempting bees and butterflies to drink from its gorgeous flower spikes. It grows to around 90cm and prefers a more moist soil – keep it watered in dry weather.

Maybe this blog has inspired you to embrace the prairie look, or to make sure your garden includes lots of plants to encourage wildlife. Either way I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next month, happy planting!

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Top: Stachys ‘Hummelo’, Deschampsia cespitosa, Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum, Anemanthele lessoniana

Middle: Molinia caerulea, Knautia macedonica, Agastache ‘Black Adder’, Achillea ‘Cerise Queen’

Bottom: Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’, Lythrum ‘Robert’, Seslaria autumnalis, Salvia ‘Purple Rain’

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing


Click here for our June colour suggestions:


Things are heating up! Everything starts to kick off in May – there’s so much colour, and so many options for a beautiful plant mix! One of my favourite colour palettes at the moment includes soft apricots, pale blues and lilacs with whites, creams and greens. Its so gentle and dreamy, I couldn’t resist basing my May plant blog around it.  


Let’s begin with the gorgeous Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’, a non-fussy, compact shrub that grows to just under a metre tall and bears pretty, white, bell-shaped flowers in May and June. It’s also mildly fragrant, has purple autumn foliage and is very happy in sun or partial shade.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Madame Lemoine’ steals the show with her highly fragrant clouds of flowers. Each panicle is chocka-block with tiny, deliciously scented flowers – one of my favourite scented shrubs. As a bonus, she is rather difficult to kill, so if you’re not confident of your horticultural skills, she’s a good bet!  

Viburnum plicatum ‘Kilimangaro’ has delicately layered branches with lacey umbels of creamy-white flowers. This is a large shrub, growing up to 4m tall, but well worth the space if you can spare it. 

Climbers and Wall Shrubs:

Ceanothus ‘Skylark’ is a big show-off and it’s absolutely smothered with little pom-poms of sky-blue flowers in late spring. This evergreen shrub enjoys a slightly sheltered spot and is often grown as a wall shrub, trained up a trellis or along wires on a sunny wall, as well as making a good specimen shrub in a border.  

Clematis ‘Early Sensation’ is a small evergreen climber that requires a sheltered spot in sun or partial shade. Pale lime-green buds open to bright white flowers with lime green centres.  

Good old Chaenomeles ‘Apple Blossom’ (commonly known as ‘Flowering Quince’) is spiky yet beautiful. Its spring flowers are totally gorgeous, and it also has the bonus of green and yellow fruits in Autumn. These are actually edible and in Japan they use the fruits to make a sweet-sour liqueur!  

Perennials and Bulbs:

What a pretty little thing Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ is. It seems to flower for weeks and weeks and is happy grown in partial or full shade! Peachy-pink buds open to white star-shaped flowers – they look like they have been dipped in paint. Once the fluffy flowers are over, the foliage is also rather attractive.  

Centaurea montana is another one of my favourites (I have many), I love the freaky flowers – the more weird-looking the better in my book. If they are happy, which isn’t too difficult to achieve as they aren’t that fussy, they will self-seed all over the place.  

Digitalis ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ is happy in sun and partial shade and is a beautiful shade of soft apricot (funnily enough). You can’t go far wrong with a Foxglove – although they are biennial, they tend to self-seed freely. Do bear in mind that they are poisonous, so it’s best to avoid eating them!  

Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ flowers a lovely shade of lilac-blue, as does Camassia leitchlinii var. cearulea – both look great planted within herbaceous borders as well as planted in swathes through a more prairie-style setting.  

Last but not least, Phlox ‘Emerald Cushion’ bears lilac flowers throughout late spring and early summer. It makes a low-growing, evergreen mound, and despite its delicate appearance is hard as nails, surviving temperatures down to –20. 

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Top: Iris ‘Jane Philips’, Digitalis ‘Sutton’s Apricot’, Centaurea montana, Deutzia ‘Nikko’ 

Middle: Tiarella ‘Spring Sympony’, Phlox ‘Emerald Cushion’, Viburnum plicatum ‘Kilimanjaro’, Ceanothus ‘Skylark’ 

Bottom: Syringa ‘Madame Lemoine’, Clematis ‘Early Sensation’, Camassia leitchlinii var. cearulea, Chaenomeles ‘Apple Blossom’ 

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing


April is a promising month – even those of us who like to hibernate during the chilly wet weather can start enjoying the sunshine in the garden, and what an abundance of colour and beauty April has to offer when it comes to plants! 

But how do you choose a palette of shrubs and perennials for both sunny and shady areas in one garden that complement each other? Well luckily, I have put together a few of my favourites to help inspire you. 


The back bone of the border! Evergreens are essential for winter structure while other flowering shrubs help to add height further back in the border behind the perennials. Osmanthus x burkwoodii is a beautiful evergreen with pretty little white flowers in April and Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ is another evergreen with pink buds and white flowers through most of the winter and into April. The bonus of these two evergreens is that they are both pretty happy in a partly shaded area as well as in full sun!  

Prunus ‘Kojo no Mai’ is a charming shrub, delicately blossoming on bare stems in early spring. Magnolia ‘Susan’ is stunning magnolia with pink tulip-like flowers, but just be aware it likes a slightly acidic soil so will need ericaceous compost added to the planting hole, and be fed with ericaeous plant food. Exochorda macrantha ‘Niagara’ flowers abundantly like Exochorda ‘The Bride’, but has a neater growth habit, so doesn’t spread and flop quite so much. 

Climbers and Wall Shrubs: 

Easy to forget about, but often essential to softening walls and fences, or providing extra cover to help create a garden oasis! Clematis alpina is a lovely climber and has little blue bells hanging from its branches in spring (this climber will need support). Chaenomeles speciosa Nivalis is a wall shrub and can be trained up a wall or fence with a bit of support and pruning, and its pure white flowers open up in spring. 


My favourite bit! I love so many different plants, but generally I find perennials the most exciting. If you have a more shady part of the garden, Epimedium, Pulmonaria, Dicentra (Lamprocapnos) and Anemone blanda are gorgeous shades of pink, blue and white, that work harmoniously and are happy to be planted in a shadier spot. Athyrium nippoicum Pictum is a delicate little fern, happy in shade or partial shade and complements pinks and blues beautifully. Bergenia, Erysimum and Pulsatilla are happy in full sun and in-keeping with the pink, blue and white palette. See my April palette below to get an idea of what they will look like together in your spring garden! 

Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus

Top: Epimedium ‘Pink Champagne’, Bergenia ‘Baby Doll’, Prunus ‘Kojo no Mai’, Clematis alpina, Magnolia ‘Susan’

Middle: Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’, Athyrium nipponicum Pictum, Erysimum ‘Bowle’s Mauve’, Dicentra spectablis (Lamprocapnos), Osmanthus x burwoodii

Bottom: Exochorda macrantha ‘Niagara’, Anemone blanda Blue, Chaenomeles speciosa Nivalis, Pulsatilla vulgaris, Viburnum ‘Eve Price’

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing


The year is starting to warm up! Brighter mornings, longer days and a bit more sunshine! We are all getting tempted to get out into the garden and start tidying it up and refreshing areas with new planting.

Although it still feels early in the year and summer feels a long time away, March is a lovely month when you have winter flowers still blooming, and spring flowers beginning to wake up. There are so many gorgeous plants that can cheer us up and I’m going to share some of my favourites with you to liven up your March garden!

Shrubs and Trees:

Prunus autumnalis, or winter flowering cherry tree, starts blooming late in the year and is still going now – gentle pink blossom on naked stems bring a bit of colour to the bare stems of winter. Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is one of my favourite shrubs. With the strong rose-like scent of its abundant flowers, it’s a really valuable evergreen to have in your garden. Just make sure it’s in a sheltered spot as it is borderline hardy. Sarcococca ‘Purple Stem’ is a lower-growing evergreen shrub, covered in scented flowers at this time of year! Viburnum ‘Gwenllian’ is evergreen and flowers most of the winter and Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has pink flowers covering its bare stems during the coldest months! And not to forget Camellias, which are begininng to burst into colour in various shades of gorgeous pink and white. Please note Camellias will enjoy being planted in ericaeous compost – either dig this into the planting hole, or plant them in a pot!


March perennials will brighten up your borders on the darkest days. I have a lovely clump of Helleborus ‘Tutu’ which has been flowering for weeks and she’s still going strong now! I can see her bobbing pink flower heads when ever I glance out of the kitchen window. Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ is a real beauty, and quite happy in shade as well as sun. Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’ is a big show off with bright oranges, pinks and purples all on one stem, while Euphorbia ‘Shorty’, is a reliable favourite, holding its green foliage throughout the winter in a lovely gentle hummock shape, keeping a bit of structure amongst a winter border.

Colour in the Garden: Monthly Focus

Top: Helleborus ‘Tutu’, Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’, Sarcococca ‘Purple Stem’, Prunus autumnalis ‘Rosea’, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ 

Bottom: Camellia (various), Euphorbia ‘Shorty’, Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’, Viburnum ‘Gwenllian’, Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ 

PLEASE NOTE: We may not have all of these plants in stock at one time. Please speak to our plants sales team by calling us on 01869 340342 (option 1) or emailing

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Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus
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Colour In The Garden: Monthly Focus