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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.