There are several design principles that come into play when designing a garden and perhaps one of the easiest and fun principles is colour.  This is because colour is more of a feeling than a principle. You can see a great combination of plants or a brightly painted bench and they will evoke a feeling – calmness, happiness, warmth and on the other end of the spectrum coolness, sadness and even anger. That’s the job of colour, to spark emotion be it good or bad. Let’s look at some of the trending colours in design and how they fit perfectly into a garden.

Veri Peri Purple

Trend forecasters look at everything from fashion, interior design and even technology to make predictions of what colours are going to be big in the immediate future. This is how we get the ‘colour of the year’ from paint suppliers and companies like Pantone which is a leader in colour matching for printing inks. The 2022 Pantone colour of the year was a bright and happy lavender-lilac Veri Peri. This is great news for gardeners as a classic combination of purples and pinks with a background of green is one of the easiest to achieve and is associated with creativity and calmness. You will find these colours next to each other on the colour wheel and combining them is creating a more harmonious, restful atmosphere. What makes this colour scheme so attractive is that there are so many purple and pink flowers to choose from you can have a permanently flowering garden all year long by just planting perennials.

Our perennial picks:

  • Lavenders especially ‘Margaret Roberts’ – a tough plant (75 cm x 1 m high) that flowers all year.
  • Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ – pastel purple flowers produced all season with lacy greyish foliage.
  • Delphinium elatum ‘Magic Fountains’ – tall spikes of stunning blooms in sun and semi shade; mostly grown as an annual.
  • Perovskia (Russian sage) – a long flowering season and flowers that attract butterflies.
  • Angelonia angustifolia – pretty pink, purple and white varieties with delicate flowers for full sun.

Also a colour, terracotta

Most gardeners are pretty obsessed with terracotta pots and that is why you will more than likely find a large selection of shapes and sizes at your local nursery. Perhaps it’s the classic European renaissance style that we like so much or the fact that terracotta breathes, controls varying temperatures better and is a more natural product than some other pot materials. Whatever the reason, the colour is rich and tactile and yet also part of the neutral group of colours that include white, black, grey, silver and shades of brown. These colours, including green, are the bridges between other colours in the garden. If colours are going to clash, then a buffer can be introduced to make the transition with the eye that much more harmonious.

Apart from the pots themselves, here are a few plants that fit in the bronzy-terracotta colour palette:

  • Carex ‘Bronco’ or ‘Red Rooster’ – one a flowing low-growing grass and the other more upright, but a fantastic colour with white or yellow flowering plants.
  • Coleus ‘Campfire’ – a stunningly vibrant plant that likes shade. The whole group of coleus plants with their colourful leaves are versatile plants to combine with other colours especially in containers.
  • Cordyline ‘Electric Star’ – used in the garden or as a statement in a container, this strappy-leaved shrub features terracotta leaves with lime green edging.

Brilliant Pastels

Gone are the days of baby pink or blue being the pastels of the day. Muted tones of lavender, vintage creams, buttercup, peach, cool aqua, meadow green and café au lait are exciting and so easy on the eye in a garden. White and grey need to be added to this list as the backbone of any pastel flowering display and to provide a touch of brightness in the dimming light of the day.

There are so many choices of plant in this section of colours that it’s impossible to list them, but perhaps for the best colours there are two plants that should be mentioned:

  • Dahlias – even more than ever, dahlias are a popular choice for height, performance and stupendous blooms in colours that you can cry over. Plants like ‘Waterlily Salmon’, ‘Caribbean Fantasy’, ‘Peaches and Cream’ and dinnerplates like ‘Breakout’ and ‘Café au lait Blush’.
  • Roses – a staggering number of roses are available to use in a pastel-inspired garden with some of the trending colours the stars of the show. Look out for ‘Pretty Yende’, ‘Pink Vintage’, ‘Antique Silk’, ‘Spiced Coffee’, ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Garden and Home’.

Shades of Green

The last colour scheme that deserves a mention in this group are the shades of green that are now available on the market in paint colours and pot colours. We can now use our basic garden colour in more ways than just as a background or neutral colour, but also as a statement group of colours. Combine 2021’s shade of green ‘sage’ with 2022’s ‘emerald’ and ‘olive sprig’ for bright and soft grey greens and ‘forest green’ for that deep dark green that is so bold in a garden, plus anything in-between.

These are the plants that inspire the green colours:

  • Hostas – known for their large leaves from dark green to light green and variegations of greens. Great form plant for shade.
  • Succulents and cacti – a different kind of green with touches of grey, succulents like echeveria have inspired designers everywhere.
  • Big leaves – the popularity of houseplants like monstera, ficus, caladiums, philodendrons and calatheas have forced interior designers to work with these shades of green and so trending colours are born.

Featured image: Stark Tron via Unsplash 

Written by Susanna Parker