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Plant Palettes


It’s surprising how such a common vivid colour can be so hard to find in a flower (at least for perennials).  Red is part of the warm colour family which mean that in the garden it pops and gives the illusion of being closer than it appears.  Reds, yellows and oranges are all warm colours that when combined electrify the space with bold energy.  For the thrill seeker try pairing purple and red together.  Talk about drama!!

Here’s a list of ravishing reds to heat up your garden:

  • Geum

  • Chicago Apache Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Hollyhocks (Alcea)

  • Lord Baltimore and Fireball Perennial Hibiscus

  • Roses

  • Burgundy Blanketflower (Gaillardia)

  • Glut & Fanal Astilbe

  • Jacob Cline Beebalm (Monarda)

  • Lychnis

  • Tomato Soup Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Chrysanthemum

  • Asiatic Lily (Lilium)

  • Dixter Euphorbia

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

  • Red Charm & Karl Rosenfield Peony (Paeonia)

  • Beauty of Livermore Poppy (Papver)


The ultimate in calm and neutral.  White is a great non-colour to brighten up the garden.  White flowers come alive at dusk making for a subtle and elegant dining ambiance.  White can soften a cool colour palette (blues, purples and soft pinks) or define contrast in a bolder scheme. 

Here’s a list of ‘wake up the night’ whites:

  • Bugbane (Cimicifuga/Actea)

  • Whirlwind Japanese Anemone (Anemone hupehensis)

  • Goat’s Beard (Aruncus)

  • Deutschland Astilbe

  • Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

  • Crambe

  • Guardian White Delphinium

  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra alba)

  • White Swan Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ‘Flore Pleno’)

  • Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila)

  • Immortality Iris (Iris germanica)

  • Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum)

  • Festiva Maxima & Duchess de Nemours Peony (Paeonia)

  • David Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

  • Snowflake Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

  • Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha)

  • Snow Hill Salvia

  • Trillium


Is there such a thing as a true blue flower?  I say yes, however there are many that come so close that we give them a pass too.  Blues are the ultimate in cool colours.  They evoke a serine and peaceful state of mind that is sure to aid in the process of unwinding after a long days work.

Here is a list of cool blues to keep you calm as a cucumber:

  • Blue Star (Amsonia)

  • Blue Bird Columbine (Aquilegia)

  • Blue Bird & integrifolia Clematis

  • China Blue Corydalis

  • Summer Blue, Guardian Blue & Summer Nights Delphinium

  • Veitch’s Blue Globe Thistle (Echinops)

  • Sea Holly (Eryginum)

  • Gentian (Gentiana)

  • Brookside, Johnson’s Blue & Rozanne Geranium

  • Hosta

  • Victoria Falls Iris (Iris germanica)

  • Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

  • Lithodora

  • Blue Flax (Linum)

  • Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis)

  • Forget me Nots (Myosotis)

  • Blue Perfume Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

  • Emerald Blue Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

  • Blue Boy Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

  • Russian Sage (Perovskia)

  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

  • Blue Spruce Sedum

  • Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

  • False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis)


This is one of those intriguingly beautiful colours on flowers.  Because it borders on orange and pink makes it neither a warm nor cool colour.  It can be swayed to either side depending on application.  It is shocking in a perennial border because it is unusual and unexpected.

Here are some peachy corals to inspire:

  • Peach Blossom Astilbe

  • Apricot Beauty Foxglove (Digitalis)

  • Georgia Peach & Peach Flambé Coral Bells (Heuchera)

  • Beverly Sills Iris (Iris germanica)

  • Coral Reef & Watermelon Poppy (Papver)

  • Jackie Mullein (Verbascum)


What a wonderful name for a fabulous colour.  Nothing beats this acid lime green for adding pop to the garden.     Using just a hint of chartreuse livens up the darkest corner and modernizes tradition perennial borders.  An automatic hit when combine with purples and pinks.   Heat up your warm colour palettes even more by adding a shot of chartreuse.  They don’t call it acid green for nothing!

Here is a list of chartreuse flowers to fire up your beds:

  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)

  • Green Envy Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Golden Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)

  • Helleborus

  • Joan Senior Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Lime Rickey & Key Lime Pie Coral Bells (Heuchera)

  • Golden Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’)

  • Green Jade Poker Plant (Kniphofia)

  • Golden Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’)

  • Angelina Sedum

  • Bowle’s Golden Carex

  • Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)


Is there a colour that is more cheerful than yellow?  I don’t think so.  Just the sight of it puts a smile on the face, even more so when it is in the form of a flower.   Yellow is part of the warm family of colours.  It is perfectly in place with reds and oranges to create a fiery display but is also at home amongst yellows and purples to add bright bursts of light.

Here are some mellow yellows that will keep you smiling:

  • Coronation Gold & Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea)

  • Golden Marguerite (Anthemis)

  • Golden Clematis (Clematis tangutica)

  • Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)

  • Sunrise Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Barrenwort (Epimedium versicolour)

  • Helen’s Flower (Helenium)

  • Sunflower (Helianthus)

  • False Sunflower (Heliopsis)

  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis)

  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum)

  • Inula

  • Variegated Flag Iris (Iris pseudocarus ‘Variegata’)

  • Yellow Waxbells (Kirengoshema)

  • Ligularia

  • Ozark Sundrops (Oenothera)

  • Yellow Crown Peony (Paeonia)

  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

  • Golden Rod (Solidago)

  • Globeflower (Trollius)


Bold and vibrant, that is how to sum up the colour orange.  In the garden orange flowers add pizzazz and life.  It’s hard to beat a combination of orange and purple on the ‘wow’ scale.  Or use it with your other warm colour favourites like yellow and red to add some heat to your perennial border.

Here are some outstanding oranges:

  • Terracotta Yarrow (Achillea)

  • Crocrosmia

  • Tiki Torch Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Oranges & Lemons Blanketflower (Gaillardia)

  • Helen’s Flower (Helenium)

  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis)

  • Amber Waves & Marmalade Coral Bells (Heuchera)

  • Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

  • Maltese Cross (Lychnis)

  • Globeflower (Trollius)


The Pathways colour!  There is something about purple that draws you in.  It takes you to a calm place but in a playful and fun way.  It’s simply a happy colour.   There are so many shades and tones whether as foliage or flowers, there is a perfect purple for every situation!

Here is a list of some prominent purples:

  • Salvia

  • Monk’s Hood (Aconitum)

  • Anise Hyssop (Agastche)

  • Bugleweed (Ajuga)

  • Ornamental Onion (Allium)

  • Amethyst Astilbe

  •  Bellflower (Campanula)

  • Delphinium

  • Liatris

  • Lavender (Lavendula)

  • Sea Lavender (Linonium)

  • Catmint (Nepeta)

  • Phlox

  • Balloon Flower (Platycodon)

  • Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium)

  • Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla)

  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)

  • Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia)

  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia)

  • Royal Candles Speedwell (Veronica)

  • Periwinkle (Vinca)


Ok, this is definitely a girly colour no matter how you look at it. Chewing gum, tea parties and bubble baths, that’s what I think of when I think pink (maybe a cartoon panther and fibreglass insulation but that’s a by product of good branding).  Fun things!  Why not add some fun to the garden too.  

Here are some pink flowers that will be sure to leave you tickled:

  • Cerise Queen Yarrow (Achillea)

  • Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)

  • Visions in Pink Astilbe

  • Masterwort (Astrantia maxima)

  • Bergenia

  • Valerian (Centranthus)

  • Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii)

  • Pinks (Dianthus)

  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

  • Hope Coneflower (Echinacea)

  • Barrenwort (Epimedium ‘Lilafee’)

  • Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)

  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula venusta)

  • Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria)

  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Petite Delight & Marshall’s Delight Beebalm (Monarda)

  • Sarah Bernhardt Peony (Paeonia)

  • Phlox

  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

  • Pink Friesland Salvia

  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)

  • Saxifraga

  • Sedum

  • Meadow Rue (Thalictrum)

  • Foamflower (Tiarella)

  • Speedwell (Veronica)


Now don’t start thinking melancholy and dark.  Black can be used as a neutral and elegant colour in the garden to offset others.  Think of it in terms of combination opportunities not Morticia’s garden of Eden.  My favourite combos with black are pink/purple & white, chartreuse & purple or red & white.  Add a bit of black and watch your landscape transform!

Here is a list of some black plants that are far from scary:

  • Black Barlow Columbine (Aquilegia)

  • Hillside Black Beauty Bugbane (Cimicifuga/Actea)

  • Black Scallop Bugleweed (Ajuga)

  • Geranium phaeum

  • Blue Metallic Lady Helleborus

  • Obsidian Coral Bells (Heuchera)

  • Before the Storm Iris

  • Britt-Marie Crawford Ligularia

  • Black Mondo Grass (Ophipogon)

  • Voodoo Sedum

  • Nigra Hollyhock (Alcea)


I think of burgundy as the rich man’s red.  It’s red without the crassness, it’s velvety and smooth.  In the garden it adds depth and warmth.  Burgundy completes an autumn palette brilliantly and compliments bright tones such as chartreuse, cream or white.  

  • Haspen Blood Masterwort (Astrantia)

  • Ann Folkard & Max Frei Geranium

  • Red Lady Helleborus

  • Midnight Burgundy & Chocolate Ruffles Coral Bells (Heuchera)

  • Crimson Pincushion (Knautia)

  • Patty’s Plum Poppy (Papver)

  • Red Beauty Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)

  • Red Trillium

  • Japanese Painted Fern (Anthryium)

  • Angelica

  • Brunette Snakeroot (Cimicifuga/Actea

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