A Winning Combination

As a floral designer, I am always attracted to colour schemes that are a tiny bit ‘off’.

When I first started in the industry, almost 20 years ago, (OMG), pink and blue seemed to be the ‘colour de jour’. I very quickly got tired of that palette, and was quite happy when bolder and brighter colours became more popular.

But it became pink and blue all over again, when I started working at Kenneth Turner at Harrods.  The English garden look was his signature, and pink, blue and white were the predominate colours. We very rarely had yellow or orange in the display fridge, and once again, I grew very tired of that pastel colour scheme.

When it comes to my own garden though, I am a bit of a wimp.  I prefer more monochromatic schemes, and I always seem to be attracted to white and blue.  But I have been breaking out of that mould lately, and chartreuse and hot pink/red has become a new favourite.

I wish that I knew the variety of the chartreuse bamboo, I bought it at one of Marion Jarvies open gardens, and lost the tag years ago. My friend Janus, kept it in her garden for me while I was in England.  The Knockout rose was purchased this year, and I love the colour against the Royal Cloak berberis.  Although you can’t see her, there is an Angelina sedum  just down at the bottom.   A japanese anemone is in the upper right of the photograph, “Pamina” has just started blooming, adding more hot pink in the mix. There is also a ‘Plum Pudding’ heuchera, at the bottom right, with foxgloves scattered throughout.  Just behind the anemone is a ‘Goldheart’ Dicentra, adding to the chartreuse/pink combo.  I have been quite happy with this colour scheme, and it is certainly a long way away from blue and white. 

What has been your favourite colour combination this year?

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40 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, All of this is so very exciting and I really do admire the way that you are always prepared to step ‘outside of the box’ with colour combinations whether in your role as a professional floral artist or as a gardener. I do know that when visiting the gardens of others I am always drawn to the more dramatic and unusual border schemes and tend to pass over those which are just prettily pastel.

    If I were younger, and reading this posting today, I should be very tempted to start my garden all over again, totally banishing green [with difficulty] and white!

    • 2

      I do love green and white Edith, it is probably my favourite, and if I had a small garden I would go for it. But one of the luxuries of having something larger, is playing around with colour in different parts of the garden.

  2. 3

    Debbie said,

    Some of my favorite color combos in my garden involve the yellowy-green foliage of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’…paired with the dusky purple flowers of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ or the bright pinky-purple flowers of wave petunias. Both combos are still going strong and look even more interesting as ‘Aureola’ is taking on it’s pink fall glow.

  3. 5

    Jane said,

    I’m not really “out there” when it comes to colour schemes – the one I like best in my garden is sage green/white/violet. Though I do love a bright red geranium and copper coloured mums in the fall.

  4. 7

    PatioPatch said,

    Hi Deborah – I’m a bit of a butterfly when it comes to colour schemes – flirting with whatever catches my eye in the moment. I guess every scheme has its appropriate place and time but whilst I love pastels, am drawn to hot colours just for the buzz… and then I love the green/white palettes but then blue/yellow & purple/orange are just gorgeous! Your chartreuse bamboo would make a fabulous background for all sorts of palettes.

    Laura x

  5. 9

    Marguerite said,

    oh goodness, to pick just one. I love green and white in shady spots. In sun I love many shades of green and yellow (both flowers and foliage). Green obviously is a favourite – there’s just so many shades and textures of it. Probably the craziest colour combination I did this summer was planting a pink hydrangea in front of orange daylilies. Very loud and very very pretty (to my eye anyway!).

  6. 11

    I seem to have pretty much everything. From this bed is strictly pink and white (but only this one), to the Dark Side, to anything grows.

  7. 13

    Patty said,

    My favorite blue and pink combo is the bright pink Max Frei geranium with lots of Willow bluestar. Ooh la la.

  8. 15

    debsgarden said,

    Don’t you love those knockout roses? They just keep going and going! I love the chartreuse of the bamboo. This is a very pleasing color scheme, and I think the heuchera adds just the right touch.

  9. 17

    Deborah, Your garden looks lovely and I join you in preferring more drama over the soft pastels. I am so glad that brides have come to love bold colors for their weddings. ;>)

  10. 19

    Paul said,

    To be honest I will take whatever I can get. If I can make it grow and thrive then I’m pretty happy whatever flowers arrive.

    If I had to choose some favourites I would say purple (for foliage and/or flower) and orange (for flowers).

    Lots of Australian natives have bright colours like Ferrari red and vibrant gold which I also love.

    • 20

      There seems to be a relation between hot climates and bright colours, and cooler climates and pastels. The sun effects colours so differently.
      Do love purple and orange, especially in the autumn.

  11. 21

    Jennifer said,

    I am not sure I have a favorite. Maybe the offbeat combination of orange and cool pink? There is no color I dislike and I am always willing to experiment.
    I can identify with getting tired of a color scheme though. When I worked in the wallpaper industry peach, pink and green were super popular. I got so sick of that color combination!!
    You are really planting a ton of bulbs! Your spring display will be amazing!!

  12. 23

    Bom said,

    I only have pocket gardens so I don’t really have one unifying color scheme. I did get my own small patch of land along our perimeter wall and hopefully there will be more color next year. My wife showed me a stretch of road with orange, yellow and lilac flowers mixed together and it actually looked good to me.

    • 24

      That sounds like a great colour combination. It is hard when you have a small garden to limit yourself to a colour palette, you just want one of everything.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I hope to see you back again soon.

  13. 25

    Amy said,

    That is a very pretty combination! I really like the bamboo and would like to add some touches of chartreuse in my garden. I have a large touch, right now…potato vine. I might change it up some in the spring.

  14. 27

    My favourite of the year has been green and, umm, green. Oh wait, and some orange. And more green. With a bit of yellow.

    Let’s be frank, vegetables don’t really do much colourwise. Oh wait, I had purple beans. Purple, and green, naturally.

  15. 29

    teza said,

    Deborah:
    Pastel guy that I profess to be, there is no other colour that screams dramatic flamboyance [we’re talking about plants here D!] than chartreuse. It is such a versatile colour and adds so much drama.

  16. 31

    Color is one thing that one quickly tires. Being surrounded by color daily and having a discriminating eye, lets color wear on me. I do not follow trends per say, but I find I tire easily when a color is trendy. Fun thing about flowers, nature puts them together and they just never seem wrong. That is what I like about fall. Many colors and much happiness.

    • 32

      One of the joys of designing is trying new things, as they are all short term, I can be creative every time, and I don’t have to live with the results for long. I would never do it in my house.

  17. 33

    Gorgeous bamboo! I love the dwarfed varieties…

  18. 35

    Wendy said,

    I could have written this post (well, except that I’m not a garden designer!).

    I tend to the monochromatic scheme as well. Last year it was pretty hot, but this year I pasteled it all down. I need to figure out how to make it more interesting without changing the color pattern. All I know is that that lamb’s ear is really lovely. Perhaps I need more blue-gray? Who knows. Definitely not me!

  19. 37

    Ria said,

    Deb, love that bamboo! I cant claim to have enough knowledge on plants, gardening and colour palette’s to comment on it in detail, but I do know that I grow whatever I can’t kill. How do I find this out? A pot, a shovel, a watering can, and a little bit of luck. It works half the time 😉

    Our colour scheme at the Ark is somewhat haphazard for the time being. Maybe it will take some shape eventually, but I’m happy with any colour for now. I’ll let the garden find it’s own palette. As you say – its a lovely luxury to have when you have some space to splay around with 🙂

  20. 39

    Racquel said,

    I like Chartreuse combined with burgundy foliage but I adore orange and purple as well. 🙂


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