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Terrific Plant Combinations

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 2015

When you see a combination of plants that really work, you know it immediately...a gut feeling. Why it works takes more looking and evaluating. Often it is a color scheme, foliage or flowers, or it can be a combination of plant forms that is so pleasing. Sometimes we can learn from nature when we see a stunning view. Or, sometimes we are just lucky, planting a few plants together that can feel so satisfying. This is a very big subject, so I will touch on just a few combinations that I like.

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Plant Combinations That Really Work

Here are 4 plants that work together. The Blue Star juniper always offers that 'Steel Blue' color year round and tends to 'ground' the group. The Pieris is bright and has flowers in spring. The 'Boskoop' heather warms up the mix with some orange, and the pine is soft and a nice green to balance things out. 

Plant Combinations That Really Work

This is a large group of plants, but notice the dwarf blue spruce in the center of the grouping. This cool color in the middle of so many warm and hot colors really does the job. Also the large blue-green Deodara cedar on the left repeats the cooler color while also offering a weeping, downward gesturing form to contrast with all of the vertical upward spiky shapes of the heather.

Plant Combinations That Really Work

In this Rhododendron and Azalea planting in New Zealand, they really did it right. The larger plants are in the background, and the lower, spreading plants in the foreground. What is more tricky about this planting is the timing of the bloom. To research and find out which rhododendrons and azaleas one can plant and expect to bloom at the same time can be the difference between a spectacular planting and one that will not dazzle you quite as much. Do your research and buy the varieties that will bloom at the same time for a terrific combination.

Plant Combinations That Really Work

Ed Resek, famous plantsman and dwarf conifer grower who lived on Long Island,New York had an incredible garden. The property, a city lot, caused him to stay small, and miniature conifers were his specialty. Notice all of the round shapes throughout...in the clipped conifers as well as the shape of the blossoms. Then notice the vertical, pointy shapes he added. Genius! Also, the conifers are very dark and cool colors, so without the bright and colorful flowers he added the garden would be dull. Just a few flowering plants sprinkled around makes this combination magic!

Plant Combinations That Really Work

The Conifer display in the Oregon Garden, in Silverton Oregon is quite fabulous. In this display they have used color and form to the max! Notice the rounded shapes and the spire shapes that really add interest. Then look at all of the foliage colors that will be on display all year round. These folks did it right!

Plant Combinations That Really Work

Erica x griffithsii 'Valerie Griffith has all year bright yellow-gold foliage that contrasts nicely with Berberis thunbergii' Helmond Pillar' in the summer. Also the round form of the 

Plant Combinations That Really Work

In this grouping, the 'Golden Pillar' Cypress takes center stage with the blue cedar, red barberry, and gold heather offering great contrast. Flowering plants can then be added for seasonal interest. 

Plant Combinations That Really Work

The steel blue of Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' really looks good with Calluna v. 'Wickwar Flame'. The blue Fescue grass repeats the blue color farther down. Cham. o. 'Hage also adds additional color for contrast.

Plant Combinations That Really Work

In this garden we see many good examples of plant combinations with contrasting colors and forms, but the pathway is a terrific example of how the hardscape can be part of the mix that makes it all work. Don't you just want to walk on in?

Plant Combinations That Really Work

Here you can see many 'mound' shaped plants that repeat the rock shapes...something the Japanese do. The pyramidal and spire shaped conifers give us some distinct contrast to the mounds. Colorwise, we chose dark green Erica varieties, some silver foliage Callunas, and some gold foliage Ericas for good contrasting colors. The Blue Star Juniper is a great blue to draw your eye.

 

 

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