Dazzling Plant Combinations
Peter recommends placing shrubs with contrasting coloured leaves together to create a delightful theme. For example: bronze-leaved physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ in front of golden privet ligustrum ‘Aureum’ or choisya ‘Sundance’. Or try the purple-leaved smoke bush cotinus coggygria in front of golden-yellow physocarpus opulifolius ‘Darts Gold’ - a lovely combination through summer and into autumn. In high summer, the vivid crimson crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and the bronze elder sambucus nigra ‘Guincho Purple’ make a striking display.
In your border, plant easy to grow hardy perennials to follow the spring bulbs. In early summer, perennial poppies papaver orientale have papery bowl-shaped heads 4”- 6” diameter, including red-orange ‘Allegro’, dusty-pink ‘Patty’s Plum’ or salmon-pink ‘Mrs Perry’. Aquilegias or Granny’s Bonnet come in a huge range of colours and grow happily in front of these taller plants, and even in the rose bed.
Planted out in spring, after its winter protection indoors, the castor-oil plant ricinus communis with its red flowers and red-ribbed bronze leaves adds a dash of the exotic to borders and works well with cosmos atrosanguineus with its chocolatescented maroon flowers. Complete this heady combination with vivid magenta petunias at the base.
In mid-summer, the violet-blue flower heads of campanula lactiflora contrast with the vermilion lychnis chalcedonica. For pink-to-red flowering perennials, consider monarda didyma ‘Croftway Pink’ with hooded blooms and aromatic foliage or startling red ‘Cambridge Scarlet’, echinacea purpurea ‘Robert Bloom’, and freeflowering purple loosestrife lythrum virgatum. In the midst of all this, try introducing a contrasting phormium tenax ‘Purpureum’ whose erect multiple
‘Punctuate your pastel-shade flowers with intense scarlet kaffir lilies’
ABOVE: Campanula lactifloralychnis chalcedonicaCrocosmia
andLEFT:‘Lucifer’ and sambucus nigra ‘Guincho Purple’