It’s garden tour season, and I’ve been fortunate to attend several — with a couple more scheduled for later this week! What I love about touring gardens is you get a chance to see what others are trying in their gardens. Tours show you the real trends in garden design, and I always come away with an idea or two for my own spaces..
This year, I’m seeing a lot of purple—and not just in blooms. Purple foliage seems to be the new green. Whether it’s a dark-colored heuchera, a deep, deep purple sedum, a lovely eggplant-colored ninebark or lavender ornamental kale, purple is everywhere.
What’s the best way to use purple or other dark foliage plants? Here are a few tips we found:
- Put it in the sun. Darker colors tend to fade into the background in shady gardens.
- Use it as an accent. A full-on border of dark foliage might be too much for some spaces. But when you place dark foliage near lighter toned greens or yellows, both plants really shine.
- Try it in containers. Many gardeners love the purple foliage of ‘Black Heart’ sweet potato vine, a container annual that creates a waterfall of dark leaves against light containers. Other dark-leaved sweet potato vines are ‘Blackie’ with its maple-like leaf shape or Illusion® Midnight Lace.
- Go purple in shrubs. Smokebush is one of my favorite shrubs. While the chartreuse-colored ‘Golden Spirit’ smokebush is terrific, Royal Purple is a stunning dark option.
Here are some more tips on using dark colored plants from a Wisconsin Master Gardener. What are your favorite purple-foliaged plants?
—Mary Lahr Schier