Today I thought we might look at some soft, gentle colours for planting schemes. Softer colours make for a restful scheme, but even if you’re fond of brights and like to have pops of vivid colour in the garden, paler pastel shades are a good way to offset these, and a good way to link groups of more vivid colours.
Sometimes pastels work well with stronger versions of the same colour, giving depth to your scheme. Think for instance of a deep magenta hardy geranium such as ‘Patricia’ or ‘Ann Folkard’, contrasted with the subtler pale pink of Geranium sanguineum var striatum. Blues, purples and mauves will blend well with each other as well as with the pinks. Paler yellows such as Anthemis ‘E.C. Buxton’ with daisy-like primrose yellow blooms will be easier on the eye than some of the sharper or more citrussy yellows.
Whites shouldn’t be forgotten in a pale scheme, and the contrast of white petals with green foliage can be a very refreshing sight in a hot summer, as well as looking elegant and restrained near a front doorway. Popular bedding plants such as petunia, lobelia, pelargonium and viola all come in shades of pure white and can be deployed in this way very effectively. Although an all-white garden can be very hard to achieve successfully, whites do work really well in shaded areas. The lower light levels allow the whites to shine out when they might go un-noticed in a sunnier spot. At this time of year the white Japanese anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ positively glows, both in low autumn sunshine and in gloomy, shaded parts of the garden.
Foliage is another consideration in a gently coloured scheme, and glaucous greens – greens with a hint of blue – are usually a very good foil for paler petals. Silver and grey leaved plants work beautifully with softly coloured flowers too. Just remember that many plants with silvery leaves – lavender for instance – do need good drainage to grow happily, especially important in areas of high rainfall.
You can extend the season with softly coloured spring bulbs such as pale blue and purple crocuses, and light yellow and white narcissi, a lovely change from the sometimes strident yellow of the more common daffodils. Now is the time to get planting your early spring bubs so snap them up fast before they’re sold out!
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