By Linda Askey
If plants are the crayons that color a garden, thoughtful combinations create the best pictures. For me, good combinations hold together through the color of flowers, or perhaps the texture or color of foliage. If plants grow happily in the same sort of light and moisture conditions, then the combo is a winner.
This past summer my hands-down favorite pot was one I passed every day, several times a day. It always made me smile. The plants are not rare, but their combination held my interest. Coral Sunpatiens® lived up to its name and defied the summer sun, flowering nonstop and getting even more vivid as fall nights began to cool down. Its compatriots were a sun-loving caladium called ‘Gingerland’, and a variegated dracaena from the houseplant section of the garden center. Although two of the plants were variegated, the difference in the size and pattern on the leaves worked in their favor. The common denominator of pink held it all together.
This past summer I grew a new, lime-green coleus called ‘Wasabi’ near a spiral ginger. After several months in the garden I realized they had grown together. Some narrow-leaf white zinnias hide the legs of this happy couple, and a canna called ‘Ermine’ gives them a dark-green backdrop. I love the fullness of this mature combination in late summer and fall.
A few years ago I brought home some bulbs of oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida). In August the blooms popped up in a sunny bed, where purple oxalis (Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis) had become established as a perennial. Sometimes good combinations just happen. I love the red flowers with the purple foliage, but I take no credit.
Finally there’s my Heuchera ‘Citronelle’, showing off its lime-green foliage against a dwarf conifer and weeping ‘Ryusen’ Japanese maple. Even O.C. (short for Other Cat) seems to appreciate this combination!