Favorite plant combos

sprout_wi(z4 WI)June 8, 2011

I will be converting my front lawn to a cottage garden, and will be adding lots of sun and shade plants. Can anyone suggest particular favorites of perennial combinations that look especially nice together? Thanks,


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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Ha Ha. That's a can of worms here. For example, my current favorite plant combo is a bright orange lily, a black daylily and a screaming magenta lychnis. Not for the faint of heart.

So my question to you would be what colors do you LIKE, or at least what type of scheme? Bright, pastel, dark, monochrome...some of each?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 4:13PM
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I saw the prettiest colour combination while walking the other day. Creeping Jenny and Purple Wood Violets groing together. Something about the lime green and purple really stood out.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 4:33PM
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GGG - That's my favorite combo this year too -- not the plants you mentioned specifically but those colors. In my front beds this year, I've added Tropicanna canna, orange daylily, a black sambucus, purple heart, verbena bonariensis, a purple leafed clematis recta. So much fun! Out with the pinks! LOL

I also love the lime green and purple combo. Creeping Jenny goes so nicely with so many things-- the aurea yellow leafed variety is nice too. I pair it with an unnamed blue hosta and touches of purple and that works.

More and more I'm learning that for the biggest impact playing up things that tie the garden to my house works best. I love pale pinks, blues, etc in the garden, but these colors do nothing to make my house look good.

My old bungalow has an odd regional glass stucco on it with multicolored crushed glass in all sorts of colors. From a distance it just reads a drab gray. (Hard to explain if you haven't seen it).

Anyway -- the colors in the glass really pop when I use jewel tones and bright colors like orange and magenta. (Colors I normally shunned in the garden).

It's just like inside...respect the bones of your house and its inherent character and, imo, the result is always better.

I have lots of fave combos and can post some pics, but like GGG says it would help to narrow your preferences.

A simple combo that worked well for me was smokebush (cotinus coggyria Royal Purple) with white shasta daisies, a few pops of crocosmia, and nepeta Walkers Low.

I also have a blue hosta that looks smashing with heuchera Marmalade, and snowberry bush.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 5:20PM
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Sprout, are you starting 'from scratch' with no plants or do you have some? If so it might help if you post which colors you have.

IMO one can use many, many different combinations of colors as long as there is lots of green and white to mitigate the 'clashing'! That's part of the charm of cottage gardens. I love unusual combos such as GGG's orange, black, and magenta.

This year I'm trying for some unusual combos in pots and so far have a large pot with Vancouver Centennial geranium (rusty red and lime green leaves with an orange flower), a geranium with an orange flower, & Northern Lights grass that is white/pink/green. Another pot has burgundy/red coleus, burgundy petunias, and burgundy/lime sweet potato vines.

One thing I do generally in the perennial beds is to use paler colors in the near beds and brighter colors further away. In the beds closer to the house and front patio I use lots of pink, blue, white, various purples (mauve, lavender, violet, as well as deep purple), and further away more yellows, reds, burgundy, with white, and lots of green foliage. I'm now using bluish plants such as perennial flax, Jacob's Ladder, and eventually Walker's Low catmint throughout the garden to tie it all together and of course white and silver throughout. I use lime green plants (Lady's Mantle, Limelight Hydrangea, Limelight Artemesia) with deep purple often. IMO lime green looks good with purple, fuchsia, orange, or pale blue.

Don't forget variegated or colored foliage plants also - they add a lot of dimension to the garden with or without flowers. I have variegated Jacob's Ladder as well as the plain green ones, many heuchera with various burgundy-tone leaves, different ninebarks with copper or purple leaves, variegated green/white dogwood shrubs, spirea with lime green leaves, bergenia has green foliage turning red in the fall, Limelight Artemesia with it's variegated lime/green foliage (this is a strong grower - I hack it back and keep it controlled).

Then there are the silver foliage plants which can brighten up any space - lavender, silver artemesias, lamb's ears, dusty miller are one's I have.

I know it's difficult to make choices when you are starting out, I recommend you make lists of your favorite plants and buy (or seed/propagate) a few every year. A color scheme may appear from that list.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:39PM
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sprout_wi(z4 WI)

I have a minimal, side, border of Sedum, Russian Sage, a turtlehead shrub, white iris, purple daylily, Penstemon Husker's Red, White and yellow McKanna Columbine. One combo I will use there is Crocosmia "Lucifer" with Echinops ritro - blue sea holly. I have 3 white Obedient plants coming - 'Miss Manners', and Lupines on order. Across the front (2nd side), I have hostas, pines. Alchemilla mollis, Sweet Woodruff, and Heuchera. The third side is shade with a few Lily of the Valley and some hostas, and the 4th side is the house - a gray one-story ranch house with white trim and a red door. In the center of all this is a fountain with a paved walk, around it, that will have creeping thyme edging. I am looking for something to jazz up what I have. I love Creeping Jenny. This probably sounds both confusing and disorganized, but looks nice, just needs some interesting combos to catch the eye. Thanks a bunch for the suggestions. I'm also a fan of the purple and green. (maybe with a splash of red - Geum 'Mrs. Bradshaw' thrown in) lol.
-Sprout (Linda)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Just paired some black magic violets with banana cream shasta daisies in a container, really looking forward to the result!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:33AM
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Misobento - here, similar comination. It looked great through the entire summer/fall. Planted lobelia again but also have a lot of volunteers. Didn't know, lobelia can re seed.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:55AM
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Sprout, I don't think it sounds "both confusing and disorganized" at all. It will be a wonderful cottage garden - just follow your instincts. With a grey house and red door you can really spice it up with brighter/deeper/darker tones of reds and purples and various green tones and white as contrast.

Please take lots of pics to show us!

Adamark - love that combo!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:30AM
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Misobento,Were you at my house??I have creeping jenny,lime green and wild purple violets as ground covers in one of my side garden.Lot of yellow nasturciums in there as well as other plants.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:35PM
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lavendrfem(z6 CT)

gottagarden combines purple false indigo with lavender irises (love that combination)

Russian sage, Ruby Giant Coneflowers, purple salvia, bachelor buttons, and rose campion -

I have a yellow false indigo with an edith wolford iris - (butter yellow and lavender).

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 7:53AM
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I love colours that contrast and shapes that differ. Some of my favs this year are "Walking on Sunshine" Floribunda Rose with False Indigo and Pink Penny Hardy Geraniums. (Sun combo).
My favourite shade combo is Astilbe, Astrantia & Columbine (pink, white & black)....or Rozanne Geranium & Lady's Mantle (bluey/purple with chartreuse). I also am loving the Happy Returns Daylily with Purple Leafed Corydalis.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 10:25AM
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irinas(6B NJ)

I like pink peonies with purple allium


    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 12:22PM
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