I’m currently in the U.K enjoying the spring weather, experiencing as many gardens as possible and readying myself for a few days at the Chelsea flower show.
Being early spring, the tulips are close to finishing and the various other colourful plants are well into bud and about to push through to show off all they can as the weather continues to heat up. One thing that has become very apparent to me is the different light level experienced between Australia and the U.K. and how it affects plant colour choice – mainly yellows and purples.
In Australia I find yellow washes out in the high U.V. light levels and loses all its impact and the main plant I find that does this is the very yellow leaved Robinia. I find as a large tree there are so many better options that carry impact through a darker outline and foliage. Magnolias, Liquid ambars, Oak trees or even the green leaf variety of Robinia to name a few.
I only ever use yellow foliage and flowers in an understory or a shaded part of the garden as I find their colour gains more vibrancy. Using yellow in a shaded area such as an understory can give the of appearance of more space and more light as the bright colour highlights an additional area to that of the canopy whilst the brighter colour reflects light adding to a feeling of space. A great native climber and ground cover is the Hibbertia as its abundant deep yellow flowers look incredible and its so easy to look after.
For a sunny spot in Australia I like the deep colours such as purples and reds as they seem to absorb the heat and light and have a definite shape and impression on a garden bed. Small trees such as Cotinus or any of the stone fruits are great examples of this and for smaller plants look at Loropetalum or Hucherea. Also on this trip back I was recently reminded of one of the most spectacular deepest purple tulips, which would work excellently in many an Ozzie garden. Its called “Queen of the Night”
This really counts for any colour in the garden but if you really want your purple foliage plants to have maximum impact in the garden bed make sure you surround them with lots of green foliage too. Green is the best backing colour for the more vibrant colours – this isn’t a coincidence Mother Nature made it this way to show flowers off to the pollinators and human admirers too.