Contrasting Colours: Summer Garden Guide

Looking for a fun and eye catching colour scheme for your summer gardens this year? Bold, vibrant colours are set to make a return to our summer gardens in 2019. One natural way to combine colours in the garden is to choose complementary colours. That means selecting plants in colours that are across from one another on the colour wheel. The colour wheel is a gardener’s best friend when it comes to creating a pleasing garden palette. For example, red is across from green, orange is across from blue, and, as in this bright array, yellow is across from purple. So here are some of our favourite contrasting pairings for you to consider for your garden displays this year.

Red and Green

Red and green create a striking combination of colour. The green allows for a natural, calm feel. A landscape design of various shades of green, emphasizing tone, shape and texture, can be subtle and beautiful. Paired against the vibrancy of bright red flowers, the soothing tones of green really allow the red shades to create an impact. Here are some of our favourite pairings:

Bessera Elegans & Asarum europaeum (wild ginger)

We think these two plants are a match made in heaven. The vivid coral red flowers of the Bessera Elegans provide a burst of colour against an attractive ground cover of the glossy evergreen Asarum Europaeumwhich will create a truly magnificent exotic colour combination for the summer garden.

Euphorbia martinii & Gladioli Holland Pearl

This perfect pairing is ideal for your borders. These plants grow to similar heights and with the contrasting tones of the lime-green bracts of the Euphorbia Martinii against the deep red flowers of the Gladioli Holland Pearl, they are guaranteed to dazzle in summer gardens. An added bonus of this pairing, is that they both can be used in gorgeous cut flower arrangements.

Clematis ville de lyon & Chive Staro

A lovely plant combination for a lasting display from mid to late summer. This butterfly attracting, deep red blooming Clematis Ville de Lyon is perfect for pairing alongside edible plants. Clematis plants prefer growing in full sun which makes the area around the base an ideal spot for growing edible plants like our Chive Staro, and as an added bonus, these contrasting plants create a stunning, fragrant summer display of colour and shapes.

 

Orange and Blue

Create some visual excitement with the glow of orange blooms against the stark contrasting cool, bold tones of blue. These two shades seem like they are almost made for one another. Paired in garden pots, beds or borders, this spectacular colour combination is sure to add interest this summer.

Festuca ‘elijah blue’Crocosmia Mistral

The hot orange funnel-shaped blooms of the Crocosmia Mistral create a fiery contrast paired against flowering grasses, such as the silver-blue foliage from the superb evergreen Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ that blooms giant spiked flowers during the summer. This perfect pair is ideal for containers and borders for an attractive combined display.

Hemerocallis apricot beauty & Campanula Glomerata Superba

The beautiful blue hue in the flower clusters of the Campanula Glomerata Superba create a stunning stark contrast against the bright orange ruffled blooms of this perennial companion, Hemerocallis Apricot Beauty. These stunning flowers will continue to flower all through the summer months for a beautiful and reliable summer bed pairing.

Dahlia Ludwig Helfert & Agapanthus Back in black

Dahlias look fabulous on their own or combined with other plants and Agapanthus are an excellent vertical choice for brightening up the backgrounds of Dahlias. Dahlia Ludwig Helfert produces spiky orange blooms that provide a dramatic burst of contrasting colour alongside the dark blue flowers and glossy black stems of the Agapanthus Back In Black. This vibrant pairing would make an amazing additions to the summer border.

 

Yellow and Purple

The bright cheery shades of yellow flowers juxtaposed against bold and rich purple blooms make a beautiful colour contrast that excite the senses when you gaze out in to your gorgeous summer garden. Here are some of our favourite combinations that we’ve picked out for you.

Lavender Little Lady and Echinacea Golden SKipper

Lavender has very specific growing requirements that would need to share its space with a plant with similar needs, of which one is Echinacea. They both perform well in full sun and in less-than-rich soil. On top of being great growing companions, the vibrant yellow blooms of Echinacea Golden Skipper against the Lavender Little Lady‘s traditional purple blossoms will produce a striking and fragrant display.

Digitalis Hardy Ambigua YellowHydrangea Zaza

When choosing plant companions, it is best to choose ones that have similar cultural requirements. Shade-tolerant annuals can be massed together to create a bed of rich flowers in front of Hydrangeas. For pairing with the luscious purple-blue clustered blooms of our Hydrangea Zaza, our creamy yellow Foxglove (Digitalis Hardy Ambigua Yellow) grows gorgeous tall stalks lined with bell-shaped flowers which together are certain to create a gorgeous contrasting mass of floral shapes and form.

Geranium Birch Double & Crocosmia Sunglow

The amber-yellow funnel shaped flowers of the Crocosmia Sunglow are ideal for planting in bold swathes along summer borders, and when accompanied with the stunning and delicate purple blooms of Geranium Birch Double as a low flowering addition, these two create an ideal companionship in the garden.

 

Contrasting Shapes

Matching the colours of two or more flowers, while varying their shapes, is another way to guarantee a winning combination.

Phlox Paniculata Pink & Echinacea After Midnight

The pink hues of the coneflower and the phlox are closely identical, but their flower structure offer a striking contrast. Echinacea After Midnight‘s single blossoms are reminiscent of coarse daisies, while the lush, pyramidal clusters of Phlox Paniculata Pink‘s florets add an imposingly beautiful contrast of shape combination.

Hosta Fire and Ice & Verbena Samira Lavender Star

The soft lavender hues of the Verbena Samira Lavender Star matches beautifully with the dainty spikes of flowers in the Hosta Fire and Ice. The identical floral tones are set apart by their drastically different shapes and sizes. The beautiful Verbena flowers planted around this Hosta variety in the border would make an enchanting yet bold statement in the border.

HEMEROCALLIS FRAGRANT RETURNS & IRIS SIBIRICA BUTTER AND SUGAR

Siberian Iris grown in clumps can create a beautiful contrast with Day lilies like our Hemerocallis Fragrant Returns. The stunning trumpet-like blooms of the Hemerocallis offset against the demure, drooping petals of the Iris Sibirica Butter and Sugar. These beautiful plants when paired together in summer borders are guaranteed to bring the sunshine to your garden with their unique shapes and cheerful, pale yellow blooms.

Happy Planting!

Complete Guide: How to Plant Buddleia

Looking for advice on how to plant Buddleia this spring? Through this informative guide, we will share all our best knowledge and tips on the planting, arrangement and aftercare for your Buddleia shrubs. When it is covered in butterflies, no other garden plant brings so much pleasure on a summer’s day!

Buddleia, also known as Butterfly Bush, is one of Britain’s most popular summer flowering shrubs. Buddleia comes from Asia and there are more than 100 species that have spread from northern India, China and South Africa to Central and South America, largely after being introduced by the great plant hunters around the beginning of the 20th century.

Planting

Buddleia are superb additions to the garden for attracting wildlife with butterflies and bees being big fans of this shrub. Known for their burst of colour and their distinct tubular fragrant flowers, this vigorous, deciduous shrub is the perfect choice for summer blooms. Here are our guides to planting out in the garden and in containers for easy planting this spring.

In the Garden

Great for long-term borders/rockeries. They perform best when planted in full sun (or at least in partial shade) and in fertile, well-drained soil. Dependent on the variety, plant around 5 to 10 feet apart for a gorgeous display. Plant Buddleia in Spring or in Autumn before the first frosts and water thoroughly after planting.

Buddleia Mixed (Hardy)

Tips

  • When planting, loosen the soil and mix in compost and dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant container.
  • They will not perform well if grown in soil that tends to retain a lot of water in the winter.
  • Do not plant under trees.

In Containers

Use a pot deep enough to contain the roots and heavy enough to weigh the plant down. Make sure the pot has a good amount of drainage holes to allow the roots to breathe. Place the pot in full sunlight and water regularly. Cut the plant back around 10-12 inches in late winter or early spring.

Our Tips

  • Whisky Barrels make great planters
  • Avoid garden soil which becomes heavy/compact in containers.
  • Dwarf varieties like our Minature Collection are the best choice for pots and containers.

Video Tutorial

In this gardening tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff demonstrates how to plant Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) for summer flowering and shares his tips and tricks for getting the best results out of these beautiful shrubs.

Aftercare

  • When in bloom, you can snip their stems for honey scented cut flower bouquets.
  • Buddleia can be pruned hard after flowering, and you should cut shoots back to strong buds/younger growth.
  • We recommend reducing plants by half in Autumn when they are grown in windy positions.
  • Removing the dead blooms and watering the plants in very dry conditions will bring butterflies flocking to your Buddleia plants.
  • You can take softwood cutting in late spring just as the stems begin to harden up a little.

Our Top Picks

Flower Power

This magical hybrid showcases a mix between the usual blue-purple varieties along with a yellow flowered species. This plant’s gorgeous spikes of flowers blend perfectly from purple to orange for a sensational display of multi-coloured shades and sweet scent to radiate your summer garden.

Buddleia White Swan

The stunning fragrant white flowers are displayed on strong arching branches that are amazing for attracting wildlife in to the garden. Ideal for brightening your summer gardens in patio pots and containers.

 

 

Buddleia Purple Lion

Purple Lion is a stunning, fragrant  dwarf variety of Buddleia. This compact plant bears large purple flower spikes along with attractive silver-green foliage making Purple Lion the perfect long term addition to borders/rockeries and patio pots.

 

 

Companion Plants

Lantanas

The green foliage of Lantanas are topped with clusters of tiny, vibrant little flowers that are superb plants for attracting birds, butterflies and bees to the garden, making them a perfect pollinator companion for Buddleias.

Lantana Esperanta White

This variety is the perfect colour complimenting partner for white and purple Buddleias. These snow white, compactly formed flowers with bright yellow centers are an ideal plant for filling your landscape as ground cover or in containers to bring the wildlife swarming to your beautiful pollinator friendly garden.

Lantana Esperanta Yellow

The cheerful sunny yellow blooms of this Lantana variety are bound to become a showstopper in your garden when planted alongside purple Buddleia for a stunning contrast of colour.

 

 

Asters

A border of Asters creates a truly unforgettable spectacle. Combine with Buddleia for a truly delightful show of colour. They are bound to liven up your garden as Asters are great pollinator attracting plants with their bright colours and nectar rich, wide open blooms.

Aster Alpinus Dark Beauty

These vibrant violet blue, daisy-like flowers with their sunny yellow centers are the perfect partner to a white or purple Buddleia for a bold cluster of vibrant colour to the summer garden.

 

 

 

Aster Alpinus Pinkie

This vivid pink variety of these tough, sun-loving perennial plants are a great easy to grow pairing with Buddleia. Their cheerful ornamental cluster of flowers will certainly bring a pop of colour to summer rock gardens, borders and pots.

 

Click here to view our full range of Buddleia

June Plant of the Month: Alliums

Easy to grow and versatile enough to be able to be grown in borders, flower beds, patio pots and containers, Alliums they really will pack a punch and are a must have impact plant for spring and summer.

Also known as Ornamental Onions, Alliums are from the onion family and are a fantastic addition to any garden. They are great for deterring Aphids, protecting other plants in your garden as well as themselves making them excellent companion plants.

Why we love them

The striking, showy flower heads of the humble Allium have long been a favourite of the modern cottage gardener. Blending beautifully into a summer perennial border, tall statuesque Alliums will cheerfully tower above lower growing plants just a seamlessly as smaller Alliums, which will add a zing to the front of a low border or edge.

Beyond the garden, Allium flowers and seed pods are excellent additions to cut flower displays. If you’re feeling creative, they can also be dried and sprayed to use as festive decorations.

Bee Friendly

Over the last few years we’ve been running a Spring flowering Bulb Competition (see details for this year’s competition here) and as these past entries show, (above) Alliums are highly attractive to bees! Great for the wildlife friendly gardener.

Where and when to Plant

For the best results position in full sun, and in well drained soils. For poorer soils treat with potash feed in the spring, which will help all your spring flowering bulbs and encourage them to return the following year.

Plant from early autumn at three or four times their own depth. The gaps you leave between Alliums will depend on their mature size, as well as your overall design ideas! For smaller alliums plant 10cm apart, the larger varieties will need at least 25cm in between. We indicate planting depths/distance for individual varieties on their own product pages.

Most Alliums will do well in containers as long as you give them enough space. They need a good 4cm of compost beneath each bulb, so choose deep pots, and for soil use any multipurpose compost, such as John Innes No 3. Some prefer to mix equal parts soil to horticultural grit. Re-pot each autumn.

Flowers and Foliage

One of the most striking features of Alliums is the long, sturdy stems that keep those amazing pom-pom like balls of flowers suspended on high. From the base of the Alliums grows lush, lance like swords of green foliage. As the flowers fade the basal foliage will wilt and turn brown. Unsightly as it is, don’t try to remove the leaves until they have all completely died off or you will stop the bulb taking enough food for winter to ensure it comes back the following year. If you are including Alliums in your flower bed and border design it’s a good idea to ensure to surround them with low growing plants that flourish in late summer to screen the foliage as it browns. Lavender likes similar conditions to Alliums or Hardy Geraniums will come in after the Alliums and continue to the end of summer, or you could plant alongside Ornithogalum for a contrasting display as illustrated below.

Thanks to their increasing popularity, Allium varieties such as Purple Sensation, the huge Globemaster variety, and Sphaerocephalon – more commonly known as The Drumstick Allium – have become staples for many gardeners.

Click here to browse our full range of Alliums, delivered from mid-August onwards.

July Plant of the Month – Scabiosa caucasica

Scabiosa caucasica

Scabiosa Mixed

Introduced to the UK over 200 years ago Scabiosa caucasia are a striking alternative to the sunny yellow, orange and red shades that tend to dominate the summer months. They become a beautiful sight once their amazing and colourful blooms appear during the summer, flowering perpetually from June through to the first frosts in autumn. They make excellent cut flowers, but left in the garden are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.

POTM July Scabiosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting

Scabiosa like a sunny position. They will do best in temperate weather conditions, do not allow to get over wet in winter. In a really hot summer they can die back but as the weather cools towards October they may start to flower again. Extremely hardy and free flowering; they will thrive in most well drained soils – particularly good for chalky soil.

Aftercare

Deadhead to promote flowering. When established they will be more drought tolerant.

Will naturalise if left undisturbed making them a good addition to a wild garden.

Top Picks

Scabiosa Caucasica Snow Cushion

‘Snow Cushion’ is a mound-forming, deciduous to semi-evergreen perennial with broadly lance-shaped, variably-lobed, grey-green leaves and upright, wiry stems bearing semi-double, white flower heads from early summer into autumn.

This attractive perennial will produce pincushion type flowers from June through to late October. They are very hardy plants and free flowering, and Scabiosa thrive in most types of well drained soil.

Click HERE to view our full range of Scabiosa!