FINALLY, spring is here and so begins the annual pursuit to embellish our gardens with color… lots and lots of color! Before your first trip to the nursery this year, as there will surely be many, consider choosing a color scheme. It may be your favorite 2 colors or 5 or 6, but let’s first consider how the colors play off of each other and try to avoid those harsh color combinations we’ve all experienced in the past. It can also be fun to choose just one color. White gardens are lovely and if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the evening, the effect is breathtaking! Be aware, however, working with any one color is an exercise in restraint, a word rarely found in a gardener’s vocabulary, but the effect is dramatic if you have the courage to try it.
The first colors you may want to consider are blues and purples. They are great unifiers and intermingle well with just about any other colors you choose. When left on their own they tend to disappear into the landscape, but add a white flower and you’ve got a winning combination!! Sun loving blue, purple or white annuals for beds can include varieties of Petunias, Angelonia, Salvia, Heliotrope and Scaevola, just to name a few. For shade, you may want to consider Torenia, Ageratum or New Guinea Impatiens.
Now it’s time to add other colors to your palette. Complementary colors, such as purple and orange make up one of the best combinations. They work well in the foreground of an evergreen border or where a lot of blue and white hydrangeas reside, but if you have pink or red roses blooming nearby, you may want to avoid orange and consider adding shades of pink or red instead. Orange along with its many shades of peach, apricot and coral, can include varieties of lantana, creeping and upright zinnias, marigolds and salmon geraniums for the sun. For the shade, consider upright fuchsia varieties, New Guinea impatiens or Nonstop begonias. There are countless choices for red and pink. My favorites would include the pink variety of Angelonia, Petunias, Salvia ‘Lady in Red’ and Madagascar Vinca for the sun. Dragon wing Begonias, Nonstop Begonia, New Guinea impatiens and Fuchsia would all do well in the shade. Yellow and purple are another terrific complementary color combination. Yellow annuals can include marigolds, mimulus, lantana and melampodium. For shade try Nonstop begonias and yellow shades of coleus. Adding a splash of taller annuals in garden beds around low shrubs or short blooming perennials, adds another texture and continuous color to the space. Pink, purple or white shades of Cleome or Salvia varieties such as ‘Indigo Spires’ or ‘Black and Blue’ are great choices, as are Nicotiana, tall Zinnias such as ‘State Fair’ and Cosmos as tall flowering annuals in a sunny bed. Working with shades of one color is another winning combination.
There are infinite choices of flower combinations. A few possible suggestions for sunny borders include:
- Purple ANGELONIA and yellow, orange or multi colored LANTANA
- Tall yellow MARIGOLDS and blue SCAEVOLA
- SALVIA ‘BLUE VICTORIA’ and NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS or MADAGASCAR VINCA
- Purple PETUNIA and SALVIA ‘LADY IN RED’
- MELAMPODIUM and purple HELIOTROPE
- White ANGELONIA or SALVIA ‘WHITE VICTORIA’ and Purple PETUNIA or SCAEVOLA
For shade borders:
- Tall AGERATUM and NONSTOP BEGONIA
- Blue TORENIA and COLEUS
- Pink or Red DRAGON WING BEGONIA and White NONSTOP BEGONIA
- Lavender NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS and Upright FUCHSIA
- White NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS and Blue TORENIA or Blue AGERATUM
Choosing annuals for pots can also be a lot of fun. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic statement at the front door, or on a pool terrace, or you want to create the appearance of a small garden by grouping pots together, there are a few things you may want to consider. When planting a grouping, feel free to set odd or even groups of pots together. They don’t have to match or be the same size, in fact, it is usually more effective when they are different sizes. The universal design mantra is to plant a thriller, fillers and spillers. If working with groupings, thrillers would be planted in the larger pot. Although the choices are many, hibiscus, mandevilla, jasmine, solanum or any other topiary annuals, grasses, dracaena or elephant ears would all be effective. Fuchsia topiaries or tall ferns, such as Australian tree fern or Kimberly Queen fern are thriller options for the shady container. Fillers, with limitless varieties to choose from, include most of the previously mentioned annuals as well as the many varieties of million bells and lantana, bacopa and verbena. Spillers can include creeping zinnias, chartreuse and purple potato vines and English ivy.
Enjoy mixing and matching these or any other plant combinations until you find one that talks to you. Remember one thing, no matter what color or colors you choose the experience should be fun, for that is what gardening is all about!
If you would like advice or guidance designing and planting your annual garden, please call (631) 271-6460 x28 or email me to schedule a consultation.
Written by Maria Morrison-Ferrero