No . 1: Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Sweet Kate’ with Daffodils and Hosta
This weekend, at the Boston Garden and Flower Show, I admired a combination of plants with a monochromatic color scheme utilizing hues of yellow and greens. It was displayed at one of the garden exhibits and included yellow blooming daffodils (Narcissus), variegated hosta, and Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Sweet Kate.‘
‘Sweet Kate’ was placed between the daffodils and hosta. This perennial, with the common name of Virginia spiderwort or widow’s tears, has long strap-like leaves, resembling long blades of slender grass. The leaves of this cultivar have an iridescent yellow color, most showy in full sun conditions.
At the base of this planting bed, an ivy plant was tucked within which had leaves with yellow margins, repeating the hues of yellow in the grouping of plants. Purple blooms of Muscari armeniacum, grape hyacinth, with urn-shaped flower clusters on short flower stalks created a complementary color (purple opposite yellow on the color wheel). It was a soft and spring like combination.
I thought to myself, this designer carefully selected plants that worked well together in regards to subtle colors, and it also had a nice woodland feel. I think it is a good example of simplicity, and a perfect combination to use in spring container gardens, with the daffodils serving as a “welcoming” plant, ‘Sweet Kate’ as a filler along with the hosta, and the ivy as a spiller. It was charming and calming, so I took a couple quick photos to post on my blog, and share with you.
No. 2: Heuchera with hot red Tulips and Euphorbia
Another arrangement, located at the next display, was a combination of intense red blooming tulips combined with the bright leaves of a Heuchera perennial at the base, and yellow flowers of a Euphorbia perennial to the left of the tulips.
The display was elevated with a mirrored window frame in the background to capture the colors in its reflection. Again, the designer was thinking of color, but in this case, a harmonious relationship of red, yellow, and green was utilized.
The red tulips were the thrillers, and caught your eye from a distance, adding some heat, while the yellow was a bit less intense but still created a warm tone to the grouping of plants, quite opposite of the soft hues displayed in the prior exhibit at the flower show.
The Euphorbia, left to the tulips, with yellow flowers at the tips, echoed the bright yellow colors of the Heuchera tucked in at the base of the grouping of plants.
The Euphorbia perennial, known as spurge, has flowers with yellow bracts turning an orange-red. In the center, you can see a dab of red again repeating the red tulips’s color. The leaves have a reddish midrib. These small pops are like the brush strokes in a painting – adding a bit a flare you may not consciously notice, but feel. Take notice in the next photo, there’s some yellow strokes at the base of the red flower petals on the tulips.
I didn’t write down the Heuchera’s cultivar name from the display, but it reminded me of Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ with bright citron yellow foliage. Common name is coral bells. Heucheras make great fillers in container gardens in spring and last well into mid to late summer. And while the Euphorbia flowers may fade, the foliage will last to the end of summer too. Both plants are easy to grow.
The arrangement using hot reds and yellow with solid, reliable greens immediately reminded me of one of my favorite spring container gardens I assembled a couple years ago, using a pop of red and probably the same bright yellow Heuchera, with some red repeating colors from a Euphorbia. See here: Cathy T’s container garden: spring combo
The next plant combination may not be for everyone, but it caught my attention. I really like foliage in designs, and this one put together an unusual grouping. In the center, a very tall bamboo plant is showcased, with Helleborus orientalis ‘Brandywine’ perennial sitting below at the base and Mondo grass. Who would have thought these would work together? But they do.
No. 3: Fargesia nitida (bamboo) with Helleborus ‘Brandy Wine’ and Mondo Grass
I also liked how they alternated the Helleborus plant at the base with what I believe is a Mondo grass. Again, foliage shapes and forms work well. The Asian styled walls and windows make the foliage plants stand out more and draw your eye in to the design area at the same time.
Helleborus plants happen to be one of my favorites because of their coarse semi-evergreen foliage, deer-resistant trait, and early flowering in late winter to early spring. Hellebore is the common name. It has cultivars with flower colors in dark plums to soft pinks, whites, and more pale colors. Hellebores also make excellent long lasting container garden plants as fillers, lasting well into fall. They are a “solid” plant to use in containers and can be transplanted to your gardens when the season is over. I like how the basal leaves are tough, and some have a little bit of serrated edges. It is a partial shade to full sun plant and fairly drought tolerant. Some are starting to poke out of the ground right now, as we enter spring.
These are just three quick examples of color and plant combinations I saw at the show – there were many more. There was even a display covered in fake snow, which was so appropriately timed – as we got snow fall yesterday – one day before the “First Day of Spring” which is today, March 20th. I hope it melts quickly so we can go get some of these spring flowers and start adding some color to our porches and gardens soon!
Container Crazy Cathy T