Often overlooked in the traditional landscape, colour in itself can take a well-manicured and very green space and fly it to a whole other level. Adding colour to your garden doesn’t have to be a lot of work or upkeep either. You can add just enough colour to highlight, enhance, and create space that’s beautiful yet still tasteful to even the most sensible of palettes.
How you add colour will depend on you, but in the traditional landscaped garden, colour is an essential aspect and deserves a place. Here’s how to add colour to your garden without it becoming a garish clash of a scene.
The best way to professionally add colour to your garden starts with your plant choices. You can add plenty of impact by choosing alternative cultivars of the already established norms that grow well in your area.
Hollyberry cotoneaster is one example- with its bright beautifully purple leaves that emerge in the spring and tinted reddish new growth during the rest of the growing season. And typical of cotoneaster, it will sport bright red berries come fall and winter. Its form is unobtrusive, and makes a wonderfully colourful addition to the bones of a landscape.
Barberry shrubs are a good go-to for bright colour. Golden Ruby is a small barberry, mounding in a beautiful bright pink and purple form suited for the front of a foundation planting. Let it accent in a grouping of green, with smaller pines and arborvitaes behind it. Even the more common green cultivars of barberry will glow aflame in the fall with brilliant red and yellow foliage.
Some trees can add a punch of colour. Japanese maples are known for not only beautiful form, small and manageable size, but for colour options. Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Red Dragon’ is a small, slightly drooping maple that can work as a large shrub in the garden border. By contrast, ‘Full Moon’ is bright chartreuse, lighting up deeper reds and plums of other colourful selections including red Japanese maples.
Turn to dogwoods like Cornus sericea for fall burgundy displays highlighted with bright white jewels of berry clusters. In the spring, flowering trees add a short yet stunning and memorable display of colour and elegance in a dreamy week or so of falling petals and sweet fragrance. Choose several types to lengthen the blooming display. The season starts with early bloomers such as Canadian plum (Prunus nigra), or Princess Kay plum, serviceberries (Amelanchier), redbud (cercis Canadensis), dogwoods, fringetree, then apples, crabapples, cherries, and many others.
And finally, if you enjoy getting your hands dirty consider tucking in brightly blooming annuals. For tasteful colour in shady areas, try white or light pink blooming seed impatiens planted in naturalistic clusters between existing perennials and shrubs.
Well behaved and forming neat mounds, they require no deadheading or care once established, and thrive happily even during dry spells. In areas that receive some sun and shade, consider trying groupings of mounding and floriferous petunias in tasteful colours- many cultivars today require no deadheading and do well when rained on. In hot, sunny spots try combining Melampodium paludosum with dusty miller or purple blooming moss verbena.
There are many other methods of adding colour to your garden. What you choose will depend on your own personal preferences.
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