Thursday 18 January 2018

Colour code

Marie Staunton

Colour code


Using a limited colour palette in a garden brings with it a few challenges. It requires a good knowledge of plants and a 'less is more' attitude – that's where I come a cropper. I'm like a magpie when it comes to collecting plants and 'less' isn't in my gardening vocabulary.

But as I get older, the idea of using just a few colour combinations in a border definitely appeals.

Plants that offer something across a few seasons are going to be more interesting than those that are fleetingly beautiful and offer nothing outside of their season.

So where do you start when choosing to employ the services of just a few plants within a limited colour scheme.

Well, keeping it to white and green with the odd splash of cool blue is definitely the way to go. There are so many wonderful plants to choose from that provide texture, height and cross-seasonal interest.

Take Agapanthus as an example of a plant that has two seasons of interest, fantastic in flower, followed by really lovely seed heads in autumn.

At this time of the year grasses are having their moment in the sun and they can make a big impact even if the colour palette is on the neutral side.

Generally grasses look better when planted en masse but if you are looking for just one to use as a specimen plant, then pampas grass is a very fine plant.

Cortaderia 'Sunningdale Silver' is as good as it gets if you are looking for an impressive variety of pampas. It does need a lot of space, so position it in a nice sunny border where it can reach its grand height of around 2.5m.

I bought a few packets of Nicotiana last spring and ended up with some gorgeous lime green and white strongly scented flowers for my borders and all for a couple of euro. This year has been especially kind to plants that prefer unbroken sunshine to our normal inclement weather and they have basked in it and rewarded gardeners all over the country with continuous displays of flowers from the beginning of summer right through to the first frosts.

Without doubt roses play a huge role in any planting scheme and even now my very cool Iceberg half standard roses are looking very serene, even after the downpours we have had of late.

I love this time of year because it allows me to rectify my mistakes and move plants around the garden into positions that suit them rather than me.

I tend to squeeze plants in with the intention of moving them shortly and then shortly becomes two years and I nearly find myself apologising to them for the delay.

One pair of hands and a few too many tea breaks does slow things down a bit, I'm afraid.

Irish Independent

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