Go creative with a dynamic palette


Kay Montgomery


Cape Town – Most gardeners would agree colour is one of the most important elements in a garden, ranging from delicate and pastel, subtle and stylish, to the vibrant and bold.

Colour expresses personal preferences, and many plants we select for our gardens are chosen for their colour impact.


Gentle colour

For those who look upon their gardens as a retreat from a busy lifestyle, the 2016 colours announced by Pantone, considered the global authority on colour, is a blending of two shades – Rose Quartz, a warm rose, and Serenity, a cool tranquil blue.

A secluded arbour covered in shell pink rose “New Dawn” would add a special charm and beauty to your garden. Surround the arbour with fragrant shrubs, roses and fillers in shades of pink and blue.

Pastel colours particularly suit small gardens, where they create an illusion of more space. Used at the entrance to a house, soft colours give a serene welcome to visitors. They appear to add greater depth to a shallow border, and when planted along the length of a narrow garden, they give the impression of greater distance.

Bold colour

Use them in your garden in blocks, drifts, clusters and pops of colour to add brilliance and richness through the seasons.

Marsala, the warm and earthy, brownish-red “Colour of the Year” in 2015, continues to be popular in 2016. How eye-catching would be a border of marsala-coloured day lilies among black-red and crimson dahlias and roses, and what could be more suitable than Rose “Marsala GrandiRosa” in shades of brown, carmine and cerise?

Lime-green is a wonderful accent colour with these bold shades and perfect as a filler, from the tall Nicotiana alata “Lime Green”, to the lime-green bracts of the shrimp bush, Justicia brandegeana, and the yellow-green foliage of Coleonema “Sunset Gold”.

Along a sunny driveway, red verbena and purple-blue salvia would be striking among purple roses “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Vodacom”, red daisy bushes, velvety red snapdragons and fringed red dianthus.

Orange is a bold colour, an extrovert in the floral world. An indigenous planting among weathered rocks of orange and cinnamon gazania with tufted grass Aristida junciformis, orange pincushions, tiered orange flowers of wild dagga and purple agapanthus would work well.

Subtle colour

Sometimes one is charmed by a border of subtle shades that combines simplicity with sophistication; of roses Buff Beauty, Crocus, Iced Ginger and Julia’s Rose, cream, old gold and bronze day lilies, maroon dwarf Phormium tenax with buff plumes of ornamental grasses and bearded iris in champagne, cream and violet.

Mauve is another subtle shade that creates gentle shadows. Try mauve scabious and angelonia with creamy-lemon alstroemeria under-planted with catmint, or you may prefer to grow standard Iceberg white roses with an edging of lamb’s ear, white dianthus and mounds of nutmeg geranium.

Green and grey foliage plants in the garden are usually seen as background or unifying colours, and are often overlooked as subtle shades in their own right. Because they are restful to the eye, they are also important linking colours between bright colour schemes.

Stylish agapanthus

There can be few plants more flexible and accommodating in the landscape than agapanthus. They come in variable heights, in white, shades of blue, navy and dark purple. Even when not in flower their strap-like green or variegated foliage and seed heads add structure.

You might enjoy groups of sky blue agapanthus with blue felicia, yellow euryops daisy, yellow bulbine and creamy-yellow arctotis to provide year-round interest. Clusters of dark or navy blue agapanthus will attract attention among orange kniphofia, strelitzia and gazania.

In a quiet colour grouping of white, ivory and cream roses with green clipped shrubs, it is the variation in form, height and texture of white agapanthus that adds visual interest.

Colour choices

Colour need not be limited to plant material. Picket fences and gates could be painted pink or sunshine yellow, mauve or blue, and surrounded by flowers of similar or contrasting colours.

A blue front door is always pleasing, but instead of playing safe with sky or periwinkle blue, why not a sophisticated navy blue?

Turquoise, watermelon, buttercup yellow, deep blue, lavender or forest green are all exciting possibilities for exterior doors, fences, gates, archways, obelisks, tool sheds and garden furniture. Whatever colour, repeat this in nearby plants.

If you are uncertain about colour on permanent fixtures, pots are the answer. Experiment with plants and pots in various colour combinations to see if they please you.

Whether you favour bright colours, gentle pastels or a sophisticated colour scheme, there are any amounts of colourful plant and paint combinations for your garden.

Weekend Argus


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