By Cynthia “Meems” Glover
Gardeners are greedy for color. We look for plant options that zing, and flowers that dazzle. We want combinations with enduring performance that can take the garden beyond a single season. To top it off we also expect snazzy pairings that require little maintenance while being drought-tolerant and cold-hardy.
In my Gulf Coast garden I rely on foliage more often than flowers to create colorful, bold combinations that carry my garden from season to season.
In the container arrangement above, chartreuse coleus ‘Gold Compacta’ highlights the brilliant purple of Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus). Mix them with shorter variety ‘Miss Muffett’ and taller variety ‘Red Flash’ caladiums for a dash of tropical flair. Each plant offers bold and bright textural foliage that appreciates a flood of late- afternoon sunlight.
For season-to-season cheerful interest at the edge of a tall- tree canopy, blend coleus with caladiums. Look for plants with similar shades, such as the deep-magenta vein in ‘White Queen’ caladium, to mimic the edges of magenta and chartreuse in coleus ‘Dipped in Wine’. Rising above a border of variegated Aztec grass, these two neighbors happily coexist from spring through fall.
Who says a shade garden has to be lackluster? Enliven a shady border under trees by layering Stromanthe sanquinea ‘Triostar’ and dotting it with clumps of ‘Red Flash’ caladiums. Reds, greens and creamy white mix perfectly and add a spark of contrast against an otherwise green backdrop.
Juxtapose spiky, red blooms of firespike (Odontonema strictum) with plentiful purple flowers of Philippine violet (Barleria cristata). Both prefer the hot, humid conditions of summer. Together, purple and red are as hot as the temperatures they grow in. Both grow tall and shrublike for bold impact in sun or partial shade. Their tubular flowers lure nectar-seekinghummingbirds and butterflies.
What are some favorite combinations you love in your garden?