Creatively Transform Your Garden With Color and Intensity
Story and photos by Joshua Kornegay
Amasterful artist understands that complementary colors and a nice contrast between dark and light can really make a painting pop off the canvas. Artful gardeners can use some of these concepts when landscaping a yard — think of the plant colors as your personal painter’s palette — and add in some texture and varying heights to become the envy of the neighborhood.
If you’ve already added a row of boxwoods in front of the house or a wall of bamboo around the perimeter, that’s a great start and here are a few ways to expand on those ideas.
In terms of color, the black and gold look has become all the rage. The colors are sophisticated and contrast well with each other, and we can get a similar look in the garden by pairing chartreuse and burgundy.
Both the Black Diamond® crape myrtle and the Ebony & Ivory crape myrtle (same clones of Lagerstroemia indica under different names) offer jet black leaves. These small, sturdy trees — generally about ten feet tall — feature clusters of neon red, pure white and even purple blooms that seemingly float above it all.
Add even more pizzazz by planting Sunshine Ligustrum at the base of your crape myrtles.
The extremely bright golden foliage of this versatile plant makes for an eye-popping contrast. It’s a tough plant that doesn’t produce flowers — so it’s allergy free — and reaches full growth as a four or five foot mound.
For a jaw-dropping effect, consider planting the Kaleidoscope abelia or Twist of Lime™ abelia in front of Princess Caroline, an ornamental grass. Pair these versatile, variegated shrubs with Lime Sizzler™ Firebush, a Hamelia covered in nectar-rich blooms atop fluorescent variegated leaves.
For shadier spots, mix variegated Pteris fern with dark Francis Oxalis, a purple shamrock plant with triangular-shaped leaves. Staying under 18 inches, these plants work well together to bring a boring dark area back to life.
So, for the bold gardener, or for those who want the Joneses to try and keep up with them, these fabulous combinations will bring drama and appeal to any artful garden.
“Remember, work less, enjoy more!”
Joshua Kornegay is owner and president of Joshua's Native Plants & Garden Antiques in the Heights.