By Linda Vater
Just outside my back steps is a gravel garden composed of all manner of chartreuse and lavender-purple plants, my hands-down favorite color palette for the garden. These colors complement each other beautifully, and color echoes of the shades are everywhere.
Any bulb, shrub, perennial or groundcover may make an appearance, as long as it satisfies this color collaboration, tolerates or thrives in this gritty environ, and can handle the changing sun/shade conditions as the day and the seasons progress.
The first days of spring bring emerging golden buds on the Limemound spirea, just as the purple ajuga flowers are shooting out and the tiny flowers of the creeping speedwell and petite ‘Tete-a-tete’ daffodils are blooming their heads off.
Shortly thereafter the purple columbine appears. It reseeds with abandon in the gravel, as does the later-blooming larkspur, and flowers in stages as the individual plants mature. Its deep-purple color and delicate nature are perfect, with the spirea and golden feverfew as a backdrop.
The soil and days continue to warm, and new playmates arrive: the purple bells of lilyleaf ladybell (Adenophora), and the sweet flowers of lavender stokesia and scabiosa.
For height and drama I plant a large pot spewing purple petunias, golden oregano and some ferny ‘Imagination’ verbena ... or lavender plumbago as temps go torrid.
And I always look forward to the eccentric, spidery ‘Schubertii’ allium that never fails to impress, delight and, yes, reliably return each year, happy in the excellent drainage of its gravelly home.