Purple & Red Add Dashing Colour to the Summer Garden

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Once we were almost totally reliant on flowers to give us colour in the garden, but there are now plenty of foliage plants that add contrasting splashes. And, even better, many of these plants continue providing colour for much of the year. The striking hot colours of red and purple are particular favourites and there are plenty of popular choices available.

The red-leafed forms of Japanese maple bring a touch of Japanese refinement to the garden. Their soft delicacy is likely to be damaged by strong sunlight, so make sure they are placed where they’re protected from the worst of the heat. Weeping maples grow well in large pots filled with a quality potting mix such as Yates Premium.

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a small deciduous tree with heart shaped, maroon-red leaves from spring through to autumn. Leaf colour and plant growth are always best in cooler climates but, if well cared for, ‘Forest Pansy’ will survive in warmer gardens. Put it in a spot where it gets morning sun and some shelter in the early afternoon and, before planting, add plenty of organic matter to the soil.

Another deciduous shrub/small tree is the smokebush, Cotinus obovatus x coggygria ‘Grace’, with reddish purple leaves that turn shades of orange before falling in autumn. It’s an ideal choice to add a splash of colour to a small garden.

The Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense, is a hardy feature shrub that usually has green leaves and white feathery spring flowers. But a newer version, called ‘Plum Gorgeous’, has been winning favour because of its deep red leaves (that stay on the plant year round) and its candy pink blooms. ‘Plum Gorgeous’ looks especially attractive when grown to contrast with chartreuse or grey-leafed plants.

When it comes to perennials and accent plants, red-leafed cordylines are some of the most versatile. Broad-leafed tropical cordylines catch the eye in frost free gardens. Coloured leaf forms of the native cabbage trees are much more cold tolerant, and recent breeding has introduced a range of new cultivars. Use Yates Rose Gun to treat any fungal spots.

Red-leafed cannas and dahlias (pictured) flourish during the warmer months. Nowadays these late summer bloomers are grown just as much for their foliage statements as they are for their flower show. Cut these to ground after the foliage dies down in autumn. Lift and store dahlia tubers if soil is wet and cold in winter. Feed in spring with Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food pellets and they’ll produce a new crop of fine, richly coloured foliage. New forms of native flax are also available in plum-coloured varieties.

For ground covers in warmer areas look for the deep purple Tradescantia pallida with its delicate mauve/pink flowers. Where it’s cooler, maroon coloured heucheras work well.


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Annual Garden Calender