March 7, 2023

Colour connection

Where the traditionally green garden was once seen as the epitome of the relaxing, enticing space, now it’s striking and loud colour that’s being used to its full effect.

Osteospermum Blue Eyed Beauty

Look around you – whether it be in garden centres, along streetscapes, or in suburban homes – and you’ll see that bold and striking colour is emerging as a key trend for summer gardeners. Where once the traditional green was used to invoke an enticing garden, now it’s colour. And there has never been greater choice of colourful plants suitable for our tough conditions here in South Australia. Here are some ways you can introduce colour into your garden:

Centre saviours
A stroll through your local garden centre is a great way to see the full range of perennial plants available in your area. Garden centres can help you visualise what the plants will look like en masse and give you ideas about how to team different colour combinations.

Alstroemeria Indian Summer

Cottage creations
Flowering perennials are often called “cottage plants”, but you don’t need to have a cottage to sport all this colour: new homes are trending towards bold, bright florals, creating striking contrasts against modern building materials.

Sometimes all an existing garden needs is a new injection of colour to brighten things up. Alstroemeria or Peruvian lillies are one of my favourites to do just this. I particularly love “Indian summer”, which has bright orange flowers with dark soft leaves. This taller variety will grow to 70cm and looks amazing alongside buxus balls or architectural plants, plus you will have beautiful cut flowers through the warmer months, which all-green gardens cannot provide.

Lavender-white and purple

Make public, private
Take a look at the public spaces around where you live. Local councils are embracing blooming perennials to brighten our streets as well. In Murray Bridge a large planting of kangaroo paws teamed with a sea of limonium purple statice, is most effective. Colour planted en masse really stands out from a distance. A local kindergarten has adorned their surrounding gardens with white and purple lavenders and I can’t help but think this makes for a happy community. Adapt these ideas to your own garden by planting large groups of colours that will bring a smile.

Osteospermum Pink Sun

Group together
Osteospermum or African daisy is a wonderful plant for group plantings. These plants are bred to be compact, heat-tolerant and long flowering. Plant in a group or row to show off your favourite colours and there are many varieties to choose from. I love “blue eyed beauty” and the fabulous new release “pink sun” with pretty shades of pink and purple, blending to orange. Osteospermum “elite magic” is another good one with a dreamy blend of rusty orange and mauve. This variety is a great choice for retainer walls or borders because it is slightly more spreading than some Osteospermums.


Border patrol
Colourful border plants are a nice alternative to green hedging. Loropetalum “plum gorgeous” has stunning plum-coloured foliage and reddish pink tassel flowers, a slightly weeping habit and grows to approximately 1.5m. “Plum gorgeous” will grow in full sun to part shade and is most effective planted along a garden edge. Try one as a feature in your favourite pot or urn for that “wow” moment in a garden.

Argyranthemum are compact daisies that flower non-stop and grow extremely well in pots. Be sure to feature them in your entertaining areas as a point of difference to strappy foliage plants. A splash of colour in a modern entertaining area is fun and unpredictable.

Yellow Euryops and Purple Lavender

Perfect pairs
When planning a garden, choose two or three distinct colour flowers for impact. Selecting colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel is a clever way to ensure your garden gets attention. For example, yellow and purple are complementary colours, so one might plant purple lavender and yellow flowering Euryops. Other combinations are orange and blue and green and red.

Forest Pansy-Pink Statice Silver Box

Fabulous foliage
Of course, flowers are not the only way to incorporate great colours. Often, it’s plant foliage that will add just the right colour to a garden. Teucrium Fruticans “silver box” is a very hardy and useful small upright plant with grey/silver foliage. It teams well with any colour in the garden. Grow the much sought after Limonium “pink statice” with its papery pink flowers alongside its silver foliage for a brilliant garden moment. Push the idea of colour combinations further and plant a backdrop of trees: Cercis Canadensis “forest pansy” or Prunus Nigra, for deep plum backdrops in the warmer months. Carefully curated colour combinations are eye-catching and worth planning for.

Conostylis Silver Sunrise

Two in one
Sometimes Mother Nature will give us the best of both worlds: interesting foliage, and flowers in the one plant. Conostylis “silver sunrise” is a compact, clumping Australian native with silver grass-like foliage and incredible yellow pom-pom flowers. These are great along pathways or in pots.

These are just a few ideas to bring colour into your garden. Whether you have an existing garden or you’re starting from scratch, there are many plant varieties that can enhance a space. Colour’s comeback will bring movement, joy and a sense of wellbeing to any garden. There is a world of colour out there, so have a go, you may be rewarded more than you know. Happy planting!



This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.

Subscribe Today! Subscribe to South Australia's biggest-selling magazine, showcasing the best of Adelaide and South Australia. From only $9 per issue
including free delivery to your door.
Share —