Garden, Gardens

50 Shades of Garden

Getty Images; Marcus Barnett


It’s a spectacle that English gardeners have mastered for years: combining delicate shades in romantic-hued schemes. Today tonal gradation is being used on a dramatic scale from meadow style plantings to more structured, modern gardens.

‘A palette of lime greens, mauves and white is by far the most popular,’ says British landscaper Marcus Barnett. ‘It represents many people’s ideal of the quintessential English garden yet a similar palette can be used just as successfully in a more contemporary garden.’

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Landscaper Deidre Causton of Inspirations in Joburg suggests creating drifts of blues for a calm atmosphere. ‘Visually it’s less cluttered than a mixed palette and the complexity comes from the different types and heights of plants,’ she explains. ‘Combining salvias, lavender, rosemary and miniature “Lapis Lazuli” agapanthus, for example, would give wonderful shades from pale lilac and grey to a deep blue.’

At the other end of the scale are the warm, coppery tones. Japanese maples, Prunus nigra and bronze Carex comans fit into this palette, as does the textured Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’.

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An all green palette is just as dramatic and makes any space look bigger, Deidre says. ‘Take liriopes, which range from the strong green of “Evergreen Giant” to the lime tones of “Pure Blonde”.’ For looser planting styles she suggests philodendrons or ficus to bring a leafy texture to casual green gardens.

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Main image: Garden design by Marcus Barnett