How can I use colour creatively in the garden?

Geoff Stonebanks is an instant gardener, because he wants the area he is creating or changing to look like the image he has in his head, instantly

Don't be afraid to mix rich colours to create a dazzling effect Image: Geoff Stonebanks

I’ve always thought the description of being a painter and using the plants I choose as paint very appropriate. This is something many of my 20,000 visitors have said over the years too. Back in 2017, one posted this review on Trip Advisor after seeing the garden. “The garden was a picture created by an artist – a delight of colours, secret glades of surprise, intricacies of fronds and leaves, inspiring and challenging, completely enjoyable”.

Colourful canvas

There are 3 areas of my garden in which I tend to create these colourful canvases. One of them is on the central steps, another is along the patio at the back of the house and the third is in the small area beside the pond! I find that some of the most inspiring plants, which enable you to create a canvas of colour are the real staples of the gardening world in the summer months.

This blaze of colour is made up from a handful of plants
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

These are notably, petunias, geraniums and begonias, interspersed with some interesting foliage too, oh, and in my case some great pieces of art or reclaimed items like the vintage grey shutters or antique pieces of garden equipment.

Stand-out plants

One of my very favourite petunias in recent years has been the stunning Petunia ‘Night Sky’. When I first used them, back in 2016, they were certainly one of the most talked about pieces of flower art in the garden that year. I had lots of them tumbling out of my 300 or more containers and you could just imagine them painted on a night sky canvas. The following year another stand-out petunia to take the crown for the most commented on plant in the garden was Petunia ‘Amore’ . Like the ‘Night Sky’, you could just imagine an artist’s brush delicately painting the heart shapes across the flower petals. Petunia ‘Amore’ was a great hit, despite many not actually realising there was a heart shape within the petals until it was pointed out to them.

Look closely at the flowers of Petunia ‘Amore’ – can you see the hearts?
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

And… Yet another stunner, perfect for the garden canvas, Petunia ‘Peach Sundae’, which I had brimming from containers in the garden in 2019. All the colour pallette shown is from the same plant, quite stunning.

The gorgeous orange tones of Petunia ‘Peach Sundae’ are an usual and dramatic colour
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Another of my staples is undoubtedly the ever-popular geranium. I tend to use them as individual statement plants in small terracotta containers, placed in wire troughs or totally interspersed with the other summer annuals in larger containers or even the beds. The money-saving bonus here is that, if carefully cut back in the autumn and stored over winter many will flower again the following year! The geranium is especially useful in the dryer summer months too, not requiring as much water as some of its fellow plants.

The best exposure for them is full sun in the morning with light afternoon shade. High summer heat can sometimes take its toll on these plants. I’ve read that many common geraniums stop blooming in sizzling weather, a condition known as “heat check.” Worth remembering, when deciding on where to locate them.

My earlier blog on begonias (read it here) identified Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’ as a lovely addition to a mixed container creating a gorgeous spectrum of colour to the mix, but there are many different colour palletes that will help you create your own carpet of delight in your own plot.

 

 

 

 

 

Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £131,000 for various charities in 9 years, £80,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex for the National Garden Scheme.
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