My Top 10 Colour Combinations 2018

I garden for colour.  Colour makes my heart sing.

Form, texture, scent, movement are all important too, but I need colour.

I just thought I would have a totally indulgent post with my favourite colour combinations from this growing year.

1. Vermillion and Violet

The very first combination illustrates how it is impossible to separate colour from texture.  The sparkle of the Hemerocallis contrasts with the more creamy, silky texture of the Geranium.  Texture enhances colour.  This colour combination lives up to my theory of thirds: I love colour combinations that are a third of the way apart on the colour wheel.  You can read more about this in Using the Colour Wheel to Plan your Garden.

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Hemerocallis fulva ‘Flore Plena’ and Geranium ‘Brookside’

2. Lime-green and Bright Pink

This gets me all of a tingle.  The chartreuse flowers of Alchemilla fizz like champagne bubbles.  Then there is the opulence of the rose behind.  It could be any deep pink rose.  This time, texture plays a part.  The ticklishness of the Alchemilla, whilst the rose is begging for a lingering caress.

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Alchemilla mollis and Gallica rose ‘Charles de Mills’

3. Gold, Green and Purple

I under-use yellow.  I get a great big hit of yellow in spring from the daffodils, and then I need a break.  So by the time this Hemerocallis is budding in July, I am ready to go again.  The hoverfly is adding a very nice pop of yellow and black too.  Contrasting form is important here.  The stiff angularity of Hemerocallis buds contrast with the pillowy backdrop of Geranium.  And I love the green smudges of Beautiful Bokeh in the background.  Yellow and green are next to one another on the colour wheel, and purple is opposite.  Is this why it works?

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Hemerocallis ‘Bonanza’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

4. Magenta and Orange

Oh my stars, I LOVE THIS COMBINATION!  It is a sunlight thing too.  It reminds me of waking up to sunlight dappling through floaty curtains.  It is walking in the morning sun with bare arms and bare feet.  It is Sparkle.  Magenta and orange are two of my favourite colours, and in combination they sing.  They don’t just sing.  They soar.  They are Agnetha and Frieda.  They are that long, sustained note at the end of Andante Andante.  Excuse me whilst I lose myself.

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Penstemon ‘Garnet’ and Papaver rhoeas (common field poppy)

5. Fuchsia-pink and Tangerine

Lors, this is another one.  This is more zingy and zappy.  It makes me want to exclaim ‘Zowie!’  Is it the spiky tubules?  Flower form definitely adds a little frisson.  And look at those striations!  Peach and pink in the ray florets behind add a softness.  Fuchsia-pink and tangerine are in the same quarter of the colour wheel, and this has a strange effect on my brain.  I like it.  Who needs drugs when you can have flowers?  The bugs agree.

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Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’

6. Azure and Violet

I am floating in some heavenly sphere.  I’m bobbing in the sea, or maybe on a cloud.  Or am I in an electric circus?  I love the ultraviolet light emitting from this flower.  This is a combination made by nature.  I often see a colour combination in a single flower (like the Dahlia above) that inspires a planting combination in the garden.  Blue, of course, is that elusive Shangri-La in the garden.  We might get it from borage, Delphinium, forget-me-nots, Meconopsis.  We might find it in Generous Geraniums.  We always want more.  You can see why.

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Viper’s Bugloss. Echium vulgare.

7. Peach and Magenta

Yes, I know, it is very close to magenta-and-orange.  But not quite.  I have an obsession for any variation on purple-and-orange.  This time it is the softer, pinkier side of orange.  It is peach parfait, soft and silky.  It is all the more delicious for the maroon stems and leaves.  And then there is a hit of electric magenta.  I have planted this near the seating area, and where I can see it from the kitchen table.  I still can’t get enough.

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Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

8. Coral-pink and Purple and Darkest Sage Green

I love the dark-leaved dahlias.  They are the perfect foil for the airy, silky, see-through dahlia petals, and the glowing magenta lanterns.  Am I indulging my purple-and-orange fetish again?  Well yes, but you will forgive me.  I also have a thing for coral-pink.  Especially where you get overlap between petals where it is darker.  Then the sun shines through and it is illuminated, and there is every beautiful tone in-between, offset by plum and maroon and darkest sage green…

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Dahlia ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Vino’ (with Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine, Cosmos bipinatus ‘Double Click Cranberries’ and Zinnia elegans ‘Cupid Mixture’ in the chorus.

9. Pink and Purple

This is just a classic combination.  It has to be a deeply-saturated pink and purple, or it goes a bit ‘Dora-the-Explorer’.  (After several years of raising girls, I am well and truly tired of the bubblegum pink and lilac combo.  I really resent the marketing of toys specifically for girls when a red, blue, green or yellow version would be perfectly fine.  But I digress).  I love combining purples and pinks that are really really close to one another on the colour wheel.  Like, within touching distance.  It makes you look twice.  They might be the same plant, but there is just something subtly different…  You see all the lovely tonal changes in the purples and the pinks, and maybe a little white thrown in too.

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Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’ with Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Flame’

10. Maroon and Lime-green

Let’s end on a zinger.  I completely love this combination.  It is like beetroot and broad-beans.  It’s my rule of thirds around the colour wheel again.  The flower form and textures are clearly helping here, but it is a colour combination that works in Euphorbia martinii and Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ (see Euphorbia euphoria).  There is nothing like zippy zappy lime green contrasted with sober maroon to provide a bit of intrigue.  It is like me and Stevie.  Olives and red wine.  The garden and the reading room.

Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime' (2)
Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’

What are your favourite colour combinations?  You don’t need to garden: it might be in clothes, or your home.  A favourite dress has inspired a planting combination more than once!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join me in my indulgence for colour, texture, form, scent and sunlight, then you can click ‘Follow’ at the base of this post.  You will receive an email each time I publish a new post.  There is no spam or sharing of your details: it is just for your enjoyment.  Life is beautiful.  Let’s share it.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    Love that final Zinnia . I grew Zinnias for the first time this year , packet of seeds mixed colours, absolutely beautiful . Great post as always

  2. Zowie, indeed. So well described, too. Pink and purple look good to me

  3. Such great colours, all of them

  4. Linda Casper says:

    Wow! Stunning combinations. Note to self: add more zing to borders and tubs by considering colour combinations.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Linda. X

  5. Rachel Foster says:

    Another lovely post and beautiful photos.x

  6. john smith says:

    You need Tithonia in your garden, for a bit more colour.

  7. Heyjude says:

    I can feel your excitement buzzing throughout this post. I can almost hear you clapping your hands in glee! Love the Viper’s Bugloss combination and also the Zinnia. Lime green and maroon is a delicious combination.

  8. bcparkison says:

    No wonder your garden is so pretty.

  9. Peach and Magenta
    Pink and Purple

  10. I agree that combining form, texture and colour together really makes a garden much more its individual parts. Food for thought in planning next year’s plantings. Sometimes the plans work and sometimes they don’t. It is often the chance combinations and surprises that make you stand back and admire. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    Seeing your gardens makes me want to tear out mine and start all over again, lol! Okay, maybe I should start with one bed? 😉
    I’m with you all the way on great color combos. Magenta and orange; fuchsia and lime green. Love it all!

    1. Ali says:

      No!! Your garden is beautiful, Eliza!

      1. Eliza Waters says:

        A wonderful compliment, thank you, Ali!

  12. Wonderful wonderful colours and photographs. I have so little colour other than green that I’m most envious of your fabulous colour combinations. Something to think about…..

  13. Love, love, love! I also like soft sky blue and light olive green in terms of clothes … also sky blue and navy – heaven!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I love olive green and blue too.

  14. Natures color wheel is always spot on. Gorgeous pictures! 🌞😊💗

  15. Magenta and orange or Fuschia pink and tangerine are my favourite. Zing, zing! 🌼

  16. Mud Cakes and Wine says:

    Love these ideas and will be keeping them in.mind

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