JULY 19, 2021
Purple plants can add a striking display to the home garden
By John Gabriele – This article was first published in The Canberra Times
Colour plays an important role in every garden and the selection of foliage, fruits and flower colour combinations can take the garden from drab to fab.
One colour that tends to dominate the palette in gardens is purple.
Its associated hues are interspersed with warm and cool tones, so it can be easy to create analogous colour schemes when planting.
Red-purples tend to be warm, vibrant and energetic. Flowers on the reddish side of purple are useful for adding drama.
Purple plants come in climbers, groundcovers, annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and even vegetables.
The cooler blue-purples, provide a more subdued, sombre, sophisticated and contemplative colour range.
But those staple plants that can always be relied upon for a splash of purple include annuals such as petunias, salvias, violets, stock, calibrachoa and violets, which come in a range of purple hues and are ideal for edging or mass planting.
When thinking purple, think lavender, which ranges from the deep purples of the Spanish and Italian lavenders, to the cooler lilacs of the English and French varieties.
Purple foliage can be found in the drought-tolerant and frost-hardy royal purple smoke bush, cotinus coggygria; it’s pinkish flower spray contrasts beautifully against the deep purple foliage.
Ideal for smaller gardens, smoke bush puts on an extra show when the deciduous leaves turn from scarlet to pink and orange in autumn.
Another beautiful purple small tree selection is crepe myrtle lagerstroemia, also known as diamonds in the dark.
This deciduous crepe myrtle retains the purple tones of the juvenile foliage into maturity.
It produces lots of white and pink to red flowers from early spring until autumn.
Tibouchina lepidota, or Alstonville, is another small tree with one of the most arresting displays of deep purple flowers in late summer and autumn.
Australian natives also hit heavy in the purple stakes with hardenbergia, happy wanderer, the native hibiscus alyogene heugelii and dampiera purpurea bound to please.
The colour purple represents meanings of extravagance, creativity, wisdom, grandeur, peace, pride, mystery and magic – no wonder it is a dominant colour of the plant kingdom.
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