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Living, Exteriors

Colour in the Garden

Ruby Simpson for Nicholsons


There are lots of ways to use colour in the garden to suit everyone’s individual tastes, but there are a few simple rules that will help you to create a huge amount of impact in your border planting.

Even if you love a lot of bright colour, just removing one or two colours from the palette can help everything look more cohesive. For example, bright red can sometimes be tricky to mix into a scheme, but often if you go for more of an orangey colour, it suddenly works – bright pinks and oranges, mixed with deep pinks and purples can be really beautiful, even with a bit of acidic green thrown into the mix. You end up with a really colourful, vivid display that might otherwise jar if you added a red in.

If you absolutely love yellow and want to use it throughout the garden try to mix to with blues, purples and whites which will compliment it and keep the balance of colour. Yellow and red are particularly hard to use harmoniously with each other.

A classic palette, and an old favourite of Nicholsons, is a calming mix of purples, blue and whites with a background of green and silver foliage.

With a bit of careful planning and research, you can of course have all the colours you desire, spread across the seasons by selecting certain colour palettes for certain times of year. You could have a pink and white spring display, followed by a blue and yellow late summer display – the possibilites are endless.

It’s fun to play with colour and, as a planting designer, one of my favourite things about my job is that I get to try out new mixes all the time. Here is a sneaky peak of a few ideas I have been working on recently…

Deep purples and oranges with a hint of acidic green

Soft pinks, lilacs and silvers

Dark purple with rich burgundy

Seasonal Spotlight

Colour in the Garden – April

April is a promising month – even those of us who like to hibernate during the chilly wet weather can start enjoying the sunshine in the garden, and what an abundance of colour and beauty April has to offer when it comes to plants!

But how do you chose a palette of shrubs and perennials for both sunny and shady areas in one garden that compliment each other? I have put together a few of my favourites to help inspire you…


The back bone of the border. Evergreens are essential for winter structure while other flowering shrubs help to add height behind the perennials further back in the border. Osmanthus x burkwoodii is a beautiful evergreen with pretty little white flowers in April and Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ is another evergreen with pink buds and white flowers through most of the winter and into April. The bonus of these two evergreens is that they are both pretty happy in a partly shaded area as well! Prunus ‘Kojo no Mai’ is a charming shrub, delicately blossoming on bare stems in early spring. Magnolia ‘Susan’ is stunning magnolia with pink tulip-like flowers, but just be aware it likes a slightly acidic soil so will need ericaceous compost adding into the planting hole, and be fed with ericaeous plant food. Exochorda macrantha ‘Niagara’, flowers abundantly like Exochorda ‘The Bride’, but has a neater growth habit, so doesn’t spread and flop quite so much.

Climbers and Wall Shrubs:

Easy to forget about, but often essential to softening walls and fences, or providing extra cover to help create a garden oasis. Clematis alpina is a lovely climber and has little blue bells hanging from its branches in spring (this climber will need support). Chaenomeles speciosa Nivalis is a wall shrub and can be trained up a wall or fence with a bit of support and pruning and it’s pure white flowers open up in spring.


My favourite !I love so many different plants, but generally I find perennials the most exciting. If you have a more shady part of the garden, Epimedium, Pulmonaria, Dicentra (Lamprocapnos) and Anemone blanda are gorgeous shades of pink, blue and white, that work harmoniously and are happy to be planted in a shadier spot. Athyrium nippoicum Pictum is a delicate little fern, happy in shade or partial shade and complimets pinks and blues beautifully. Bergenia, Erysimum and Pulsatilla are happy in full sun and in-keeping with the pink, blue and white palette.

Feeling inspired? Nicholsons has lovely plants to add colour and interest to your garden. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are here to help you and we also offer an garden consultancy service.


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