March 1

Top 10 Planting combinations

Created by Anna Kapuvari

Making a flower border is like painting an impressionist masterpiece, except with living colours instead of paint. The greatest satisfaction comes from creating a natural environment for our prized plants, where a wide variety of perennials can complement one another and attract all sorts of wildlife, from busy bees and delicate butterflies to chirping birds.

  1. Tall Perennials 

    Some of the most beautiful perennials, like Digitalis and Acanthus, were likely inspired by the idea that if you want to be noticed, you have to stand out. Spiky flowers can add a pop of colour where it’s needed most, but their blooming time is usually brief, so it’s important to space them out across the year. Bulbs, such as the purple Alliums commonly used in this context, are another smart choice for filling in empty spots in a border.

  2. Purple, white, pink – a classic comboOne of the most popular colour combinations for a border is purple and white because it is sophisticated yet striking. More tones, like pinks or light blues, will only add to the harmony.

  3. Plants with the same flowering timeHere’s where your skills in plant arrangement really come into play: if two plants bloom at the same time, you should place them next to each other in plants of the same colour. Flowers such as astrantia and sisyrinchium, campanula and alchemilla, echinacea and sage, and so on. Make up your own unique colour schemes and experiment with different flower designs.

  4. Using wild plantsIn most cases, cultivated varieties of popular garden plants originated from the corresponding wild ancestors. Perennials from your local meadow or forest can be a great choice for your garden because they are low maintenance and spread quickly by self-seeding. Flowers like boragos, wild geraniums, chamomiles, and forget-me-nots make lovely filler for borders.

  5. Similar colours next to each otherIn order to ensure that a certain colour is always present in your border, it is important to stock up on a wide variety of plant species that share your preferred hue. For instance, when the Centranthus ruber begins to produce seeds, the Penstemon ‘Garnet,’ another species with a similarly coloured flower, opens its lovely bell-shaped flowering, bringing the same tones into the mix with a little overlap in timing.

  6. Same species – different varieties

    Many garden cultivars have a wide variety of forms; incorporating a wide range of sizes and shapes into your border design will give your garden a special collector’s feel. The combination of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ and Salvia ‘Caradonna,’ for instance, is a good example of a palette garden, which some people enjoy creating.

  7. Set a feature pointThere are some plants that were destined to be the centre of attention, and Cynara cardunculus, also known as the silvery globe artichoke, is one such plant. The human eye can rest and be drawn to a large block of feature plant. As an alternative, you can use evergreen shurbs to create visual variety within a cottage-style border.

  8. Trailers and Spikes

    Spiky or tall flowers will always give structural elements into your border, while trailers and other bushy perennials will soften the look. To further conceal the hardscape elements, consider planting trailers at the raised bed’s edge.

  9. Mix up shades and shapes

    In order to make the most of a monochromatic palette, it’s important to vary not only the shades of that colour but also the shapes of the leaves. Because people can distinguish between more shades of green than any other colour, you can use just greenery to create something special.

  10. Complementary colours

    If you want to make something exciting, all you have to do is use colours that are diametrically opposed to one another on the colour wheel. Planting a border of various shades of purple with splashes of yellow is a classic example of this combination.

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