By Lorraine Spooner
Creating planting partners can be a matter of personal choice and preferred palette, but understanding the ‘Colour Wheel’ can be of great assistance in ensuring not only the right combination of plants are chosen for the soil and aspect, but a ‘trial and error’ outcome can be avoided, where plants need to be moved elsewhere or even discarded, due to their unharmonious relationship with each other.
At different times of day when dawn and dusk varies between the seasons, light levels can be used to advantage to enhance certain colours – white will appear to glow in the twilight hours, so can be planted near a patio to be enjoyed as darkness falls; and cooler hues, such as blues and purples, will appear to recede, creating an illusion of a larger space.
There are many colour associations that would harmonise well together; I have highlighted several principles below and suggested different plants that could meet each brief, incorporating contrasting heights, textures, shapes and season of interest.
Engage your mind with one primary colour on the outer perimeter of the wheel and then consider all the numerous lighter shades within the same ‘wedge’, which would become the supporting act, creating a simultaneous contrast aesthetically pleasing on the eye.
Plant suggestions: Hebe ‘Garden Beauty Blue’, Buddleja ‘Cotswold Blue’, Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ Lavender angustifolia, Veronica gentionoides, Rosmarinus ‘Miss Jessop’s Upright’, Polemonium ‘Brize d’Anjou’ and a pale purple Iris such as ‘Jane Phillips’.
Hebe ‘Garden Beauty Blue’
Choose opposing colours on the wheel to create a dynamic contrast, such as purple with orange – this results in the purple becoming the eye-catching colour, with the orange enriching the planting.
Plant suggestions: Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’, Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’, Potentilla ‘Hopley’s Orange’, Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ and Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’.
Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’
Potentilla ‘Hopley’s Orange’