Choosing a planting scheme is one of the most exciting stages of garden design. It’s exciting because if you’re looking at planting, you’ve probably already sorted out hard landscaping, lighting and zoning (deciding which areas of your garden you want to use for dining, play, entertainment and relaxation). As landscape designers we focus on designing schemes that include all of the colours, textures and even aromas you like, while also ensuring that the final scheme will delight you across the seasons, even as it matures over the ensuing months and years.
Ideally, you’ll want a mix of shrubs, bulbs, perennials and grasses, supplemented in the summer months by half-hardy or tender plants – like sweet peas, stocks and cosmos for instance – that are designed to bring colour and scent only until autumn. We love delving into the living palette with you and introducing colours and vibrancy in your garden. But if you’re looking for a bit of instant inspiration for selecting plants with confidence, check out our tips for filling your plot with colour and vibrancy!
Picked for texture, rather than colour, grasses provide a neutral counterpoint to a colourful border and often offer visual interest when many more flamboyant plants have reached the end of their flowering season. Perennials like New Zealand flax and pampas grass are great for anchoring planting schemes and have stems that can be used in flower arranging. If kept tidy, ornamental grasses can look stunning in the winter landscape, rimed with frost. They’re relatively easy to look after, though they will appreciate well-drained soil and lots of sun.
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If you need convincing of the power of an all-white border, a trip to Sissinghurst in Kent will definitely give you pause for thought. White blooms are the perfect foil for green foliage, illuminating shady corners and providing a magical contrast at dusk. White-flowered plants are often highly scented, which helps to attract nocturnal pollinators, like moths. One of the best small white shrubs is the hydrangea but consider including roses, philadelphus, anemones, cosmos and jasmine as part of your garden planting scheme.
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Blue and yellow contrast
Sometimes, a bit of contrast is all you need to create an eye-catching display. Blue and yellow is a great combination because it stands out so effectively from the sea of pastels which can dominate in the summer months. The Himalayan poppy is an interesting example of blue and yellow occurring in the same bloom – although it can be tricky to grow in British gardens. Instead, consider planting a native blue – like speedwell, salvia or lithodora – alongside the golden tones of achillea or rudbeckia for optimum impact.
Image source: Premier Seeds Direct
If your preferences are for the cooler end of the colour spectrum, there’s no shortage of purple and grey species to choose from. Silver-grey foliage, often seen in Mediterranean plants, makes a stunning backdrop for purple blooms, so try teaming lavender, eryngium and helichrysum with purple spire (perovskia), salvias and deep-hued alliums. Classic cottage garden favourites like hollyhocks, delphiniums and irises also come in shades of violet and purple which can make a stunning display. For sculptural beauty, you can’t beat a stately acanthus.
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If you crave the vibrancy of red and yellow, remember that a little goes a long way. Consider a ‘statement’ flower like a canna or a bird of paradise; both can be grown outdoors in a frost-free border with a little over-winter protection. Alternatively, old favourites like gladioli, crocosmia (Lucifer), lupins and dahlias can deliver a big punch of vibrant colour with little effort. Don’t overlook the value of roses – they partner well with herbaceous perennials. Plant in drifts for the biggest impact.
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Dark-leaved plants make a superb backdrop to white or brightly coloured blooms, so make sure you consider plants like heucheras and Anthriscus (Ravenswing) alongside other planting selections. The stunning dark-leaved elder is a beautiful shrub if you have the room, while actaeas are good for shade. Some varieties of penstemon and basil also sport purple-black leaves, as do many dahlias and cannas.
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Let’s discover the perfect colour palette for you
Whatever colour palette you have in mind, we’d love to create an outdoor space that perfectly captures you. We are passionate about creating outdoor spaces that will perfectly frame your home and continue to evolve into an integral part of your property’s identity. Visit our page for inspiration on landscape design and our services or get in touch to discover how we can help you transform your outdoor spaces.