Sunday, February 17, 2013

Trends In Gardening–Purple, Sexy, Modern, Purple

According to a Better Homes and Garden article, purple is the ‘trendy’ color to incorporate into the landscape. Finding a pleasant yet vibrant color scheme for the landscape is important.   The foliage of plants is a valued element, and yet when most think garden foliage, they think green.  Dark foliage plants add a sleek, modern element to the garden. ‘Fads’ can be used in annual containers. But I caution gardeners to skip the ‘fad’ of the year in the garden since that ‘fad’ will be long gone before your plants get established. Instead, key in on the ‘trends‘ of gardening, and update your landscape with a few colorful additions.

As this photo shows, the greens are ranging from dark green in the grass, to a lime chartreus of the moss.  The eye naturally goes to color, and I immediately sense the dark ground covers of the clover and ajuga as they play off of the brighter greens. 

Hibiscus 'Summer Storm'
This is a Hibiscus, ‘Summer Storm’.  This dark foliage on this 4’ – 5’ plant will certainly make a statement in a sunny border.  This plant is hardy to Zone 4. Two other Hibiscus that have magenta foliage are “Fleming Fields’ and ‘Kopper King’.

Hibiscus - Kopper King
'Kopper King' Hibiscus

Burgundy foliage of the Rodgeria is not to be outdone. Hardy in Zones 5 – 8, this plant will do well in a rich, moist soil of a shade garden. The palm-like leaves are deeply lobed add a texture to the garden that makes this plant
 Rodgersia ' Bronze peacock'
“Bronze Peacock’ Rodgeria, is a compact plant that grows to about 2’ x 2’.  It’s thick leaves are somewhat glossy. A deep pink bloom when it flowers, this ‘Bronze Peacock’ would be a great companion plant to finer, lacy leaved plants like ferns and astilbe, or Lady's Mantle.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

Euphorbia, ‘Blackbird’ will do well in a container.  The near-black foliage has yellow-chartreuse tips.  A member of the Spurge plant group, this plant is deer resistant and hardy in Zone 5 – 9 and needs full to part
Euphorbia - Cypress Spurge'
Euphorbia, 'Cypress Spurge'
Euphorbia, “Cypress Spurge'” is a striking plant also.

Ligularia, “Britt-Marie Crawford” has dark green leaves which have a metallic burgundy sheen on the leaves.  Rich, moist soil in shade to part shade are required.  If Ligularia gets too much sun, be sure to keep it moist.  An other Ligularia, “Dragon Wings” is showy with deep-cut leathery leaves.  It’s stems are purple, 32” to 36” tall.  Nice for the back of a shady bed.

ligularia 'Britt-Marie Crawford'Ligularia, 'Dragon Wings'

Epimedium, also called Barronwort, is a plant that has leaves throughout winter in my garden.  “Dark Beauty” stays short, only about 12” tall and will take some sun to mostly shady conditions.  The new growth of “Dark Beauty” is chocolate/purple.  Who doesn't like chocolate!Epimedium, 'Dark Beauty'

As we can see, there are some real striking plants that will perk up the property by picking purple.

chocoholic snake rootThis is Cimicifuga , Snake Root, or Bugbane, depending on who is describing this favorite in cottage gardens. There are a few to pick from in this family of plants that have dark foliage.
cimijc snake root James Compton‘James Compton” has very dark purple foliage. “Pink Spike” is yet another Bugbane that has dark, dark purple foliage and light pink spiky blooms.  Very striking plant.
Snake Root - Pink Spike
'Pink Spike'

Going back to the first photo of colorful ground covers, a discussion cannot be complete without mentioning Sedums.  These heat and drought tolerant plants are wonderful.  Sedums have many qualities, that I’ll need to fully feature them in the future article.

Sedum Dragon's blood
Sedum, "Dragon's Blood'

sedum 'Xenox'
Sedum, 'Xenox'

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Give the garden a glance.  Does anything stand out? If not, give purple it's place.  Does one section fade into another? If so, give purple a try.  Colors stops the eye to take in sections of the garden that might have otherwise been missed. Think about adding purple.  Purple foliage, can draw the eye into a stunning, modern vignette, and this trend will add long term interest to the space.

What dark foliage plants do you enjoy?  I didn't begin to cover the whole group.  What else can be included into the garden?


dorothy said...

I planted the "Mystic" series dahlias last year for the first time. I really like the dark foliage. I also have a colocasia "Hawaiian Eye" with beautiful purple stems and dark leaves. And Sweet Potato Vine' Ipomoea batatas' "Blackie" always makes a nice fileer in pots. I have more but that's all I can think of right off hand. I enjoyed your post and photos!

Anonymous said...

I'm not crazy about dark foliage plants. They're too ... dark. I do like purple flowers though, like the purple Savlia 'Caradonna'.

Claudia Fugate said...

Dorothy - Thanks for visiting, and from the sounds of it, we may have a dark side! I'm telling on myself! Have a great day.

Nicholas Weber said...

I have always been partial to monarda punctata. It's doesn't have the darkest of foliage, but it has an interesting shade of purple that looks amazing when planted in masses. I remember first discovering it when I was about 7 or 8 years old and ever since I have thought it was neat.

Viola labradorica is another cool plant with dark foliage that I have in several garden areas. I planted it last year and am hoping it makes it through the Winter. I have planted it at the top of a slope mixed with wild blue phlox. I'm hoping it will eventually creep downward and cover some of the field stones that I've used as a retaining wall.

Anonymous said...

I think the purples can look really quite stunning. I tend to buy or plant on impulse though and not worry too much about what's trendy.