companion plants for dark foliage shrubs

mary_rockland(USDA4 Ottawa)July 24, 2014


I recently put in a bunch of dark leaved shrubs (purple leaf sandcherrry, wine and roses weigela, etc.) At first I thought it was great, but now I find I have to remove so many things that clash and or throw off the colour balance. Out went the pale Catherine Woodbury daylily (washed out in comparison and all the yellow undertones come through, and the yellow bearded iris. I've found that many purple coneflower and liatris and great perennials to brighten things up, but wonder if others have suggestions.

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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Anything orange would work. Some people can't handle orange though.
Here's some Crocosmia in front of Rosa glauca and a couple of seed grown Japanese Maples.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Gold tones are the standard accompaniment if you are going for foliage contrast - yellow leafed barberries, Gold Mop threadleaf cypress Sun King aralia, etc.

Another great contrast is the slivery blue of plants like Blue Star juniper, dwarf blue spruce, blue oat grass or fescue, nepeta (cat mint), etc.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:12PM
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mary_rockland(USDA4 Ottawa)

Thanks Mike and Gardengal!

I suppose I'm not "standard" then because my thinking is a harmonious color scheme (ie colours next to each other on the colour wheel) of burgandy-red (the shrubs), pinks(mostly bright), purples(bright if possible), medium blues and, grey/blue . For me the bright pinks/bright purples seem to be the most lacking in numbers.

Mike - I do love what you have and red- orange is another harmonious color scheme - but unfortunately orange isn't my color. I do like the Rosa Glauca against the red foliage though. You guys are making me appreciate the silvery and blue leaves that I took for granted! Oh, and I do envy your zone for those lovely japanese maples!

Gardengal - I could add more silvery blue. I do have some grey/blues in that garden already, a "bigears" wooly lambs ears, nepeta, a creeping juniper with a blue cast and they are all good. I hadn't thought too much about them they were just there.

Just to share a few things I think work for a pink/purple approach with burgandy leaved shrubs. I happen to have a hot pink perennial sweet pea growing by accident through the purple leaf sandcherry and it's quite nice. Another thing I have in that garden - is a hybiscus syriacus similiar to blue bird (lavender blue with a deep burgandy marking in the middle of each flower) I also have "Arnie's Choice" daylily and some creeping phlox.

Like most gardeners I'm a bit greedy and always searching for more. I'd welcome more suggestions, especially vivid pinks and purples, perhaps earlier (or later) blooming than the coneflower and liatris if anyone has more ideas.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:36PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Spirea 'Ogon' looks gorgeous in front of purple leafed Physocarpus in my gardens. On the ground in front of the 'Ogon' is lambs ears. Stunning combo.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:01AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

A pleasant balance is mostly harmony (adjacent colors) with a small amount of contrast to set the planting off. So where a stark juxtaposition would not be enjoyed (as in your case) you would have blue, pink and silver etc. to agree with the purple and then a little yellow or maybe white to accent it.

White variegated can often produce the same appearance as grayish or silvery. What combinations of colors are present in the particular purple foliage plants used affects what other plants look good with them. For example some kinds have a lot of pink or blue tinting in their leaves and others do not.

An easy and enjoyable way to find good combinations is to visit independent garden centers during the growing season and place plants near one another to see how they look together. You can do this without scrambling the nursery by picking out one kind at a time that appeals and then holding it up against various others.

When trying to add to something you have in the garden already you can cut a sample of that and then hold it against other kinds at outlets.

This post was edited by bboy on Fri, Aug 1, 14 at 22:13

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:22PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I put these together to see how they would look.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:12PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Apparently the Cotinus has quite a bit of blue in it because it relates more to the all blue hydrangea flower head.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:17PM
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