Seasonal Color Repetition Is Key

Create visual cohesiveness by sticking to a few strategic hues

Fine Gardening – Issue 181
Purple starts the color show off and green-yellow is the transitional hue

1. Purple starts the color show off
In spring/early summer, Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas, Zones 7–11), tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis, Zones 7–11), and blazing star (Liatris spicata, Zones 3–9) shine. These long-blooming perennials begin flowering fairly early on and continue their show up until the temperatures cool.

2. Green-yellow is used as the transitional hue
Most of the ornamental grasses and Siberian iris (Iris sibirica, Zones 3–8) start out a vibrant green in spring and summer before their strappy blades change to a dramatic yellow in autumn.

It’s easy to say, “Repeat the same color throughout your garden to keep things visually unified.” The principle is simple, but executing it throughout every season comes with challenges. This garden design overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Pacific Northwest accomplishes color continuity in nearly every season through careful plant selection and strategic spacing of the featured colors at varied layers within the bed. Garden designer Sharon Nyenhuis selected two central colors—one in spring/early summer (purple) and one in late summer/fall (blush)—and made sure a few plants with those colors were placed at the front, middle, and rear of the border. To further enhance the seasonal color continuity, she scattered a series of ornamental grasses and Siberian iris throughout the bed, which share a similar texture and proclivity to fade from bright green to bright yellow as temperatures cool. Sadly, this landscape no longer exists: It was built on a fragile bluff that eventually fell away, taking the gorgeous garden with it.

Blush dominates in the final days of the season

3. Blush dominates in the final days of the season
Fall is known for reds and oranges, so the soft pink of glossy abelia (Abelia × grandiflora, Zones 5–9) is unexpected (photo). Its blooms also perfectly echo the fall color of the ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–9).

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