14 July 2012 - 8:16pm

Good colour combinations 3: using foliage creatively in your borders

I absolutely love bright, vibrant flowers in my garden. But I have learned both by trial and error and through reading colour experts such as Christopher Lloyd and Sarah Raven that if you get too carried away, it can look more like a dogs dinner than a great planting combo. So, how do you do it? The answer, my gardening friends, is the generous use of foliage. Plant plenty of green, grey or red leaved plants and any planting scheme is much more likely to work. You can get away with really so called clashing colours if you keep a balance between vibrant flowers and calming green leaves. And don't forget that foliage can look good and provide contrast on its own - perennials such as alchemilla mollis, ferns and and hostas can look fab together without any help from more their more obvious-and-brash-flowering cousins. Especially if you mix different leaf shapes such as chunky hostas and lacey ferns or corydalis. From left to right a contrast of colour and form with flowers playing second fiddle: a medley of green - hosta, fern and ladys mantle; Cotinus 'Grace and ladys mantle; Lychnis 'firecracker' and phlomis, Lychnis and a grey leaved achillea.