Colour themes can be very effective, and although it may not be practical to plant whole borders like this in a small garden, you can often use a colour theme in part of a border, devote an island bed to shades of one or two colours, or perhaps cheer up a dull corner with yellow and gold.
The plants suggested here will form
the foundation of a colour theme for a mixed border, but you can add to
them and broaden the scope by using bulbs and annuals in appropriate
Two of the most popular colour ranges are looked at here: blue and silver, and yellow and gold, both of which are ideal for small gardens.
Blue and silver
Deciduous to evergreen perennial.
Light to deep blue ball-shaped flower heads mid and late summer 45 × 75cm (18 × 30in).
Deciduous sub-shrub. Deeply divided silvery-grey leaves. Yellow flowers in
mid and late summer 1m × 60cm
(3 × 2ft).
Herbaceous perennial. Silver-grey foliage 1m × 45cm (3ft × 18in).
Ceanothus x burkwoodii
Evergreen shrub. Clusters of bright
blue flowers mid summer to mid autumn 2.4 × 2.1m (8 × 7ft).
Herbaceous perennial. Tall flower
spikes in various shades of blue
1.8m × 60cm (6 × 2ft).
Grass. Dense tufts of blue-grey leaves
23 × 23cm (9 × 9in).
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’
Deciduous shrub. Lilac-blue flowers
late summer to mid autumn
2.4 × 2.4m (8 × 8ft).
Nepeta × faassenii
Herbaceous perennial. Spike-like
heads of lavender-blue flowers all summer. Grey-green leaves 45 ×
45cm (18 × 18in).
Shrubby perennial. Feathery sprays of violet-blue flowers in late summer
and early autumn. Grey-green leaves 1.2m × 45cm(4ft × 18in).
Evergreen shrub. Silvery, woolly
leaves on mound-forming plant.
Small yellow flowers in mid summer
45 × 45cm (18 × 18in).
Senecio ‘Sunshine’ (syn.
Evergreen shrub. Silver-grey foliage. Yellow daisy-type flowers in mid and late summer 1 × 1.2m (3 × 4ft).
Stachys lanata (syn. S. byzantina or
Almost evergreen herbaceous
perennial. Bold silvery leaves. Spikes
of purple flowers in mid summer
30 × 30cm (12 × 12in).
Yellow and gold
Herbaceous perennial. Flat heads of lemon-yellow flowers in mid and late summer 1 × 1m (3 × 3ft).
Evergreen shrubby perennial.
Golden-yellow flowers in mid and
late spring. Grey-green leaves
30 × 45cm (12 × 18in).
Herbaceous perennial. Yellow daisy-
like flowers early to late summer.
‘E. C. Buxton’ is lemon-yellow,
‘Grallagh Gold’ is deep golden-yellow 75 × 45cm (21⁄2ft × 18in).
Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’
Deciduous shrub. Yellow foliage,
pale yellow flowers in mid spring.
Red berries in autumn 1.2 × 1.2m
(4 × 4ft).
Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’
Evergreen shrub that is generally
planted in a somewhat sheltered
position. Yellow foliage. White
flowers in mid and late spring 1.5 × 1.5m (5 × 5ft).
Forsythia × intermedia
Deciduous shrub. Covered with
yellow flowers in early and mid
spring 2.4 × 2.1m (8 × 7ft).
Herbaceous perennial. There are
many yellow varieties, flowering throughout summer 1m × 75cm
(3 × 21⁄2ft).
Evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub. Large yellow flowers from mid
summer to early autumn 1.5 × 1.5m
(5 × 5ft).
Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’
Evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub. Green and gold foliage 2.4 × 2.4m
(8 × 8ft), but can be clipped to keep it more compact.
Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’
Evergreen shrub. Golden foliage
1.2 × 1.8m (4 × 6ft).
Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’
Deciduous shrub. Yellow leaves (can become scorched in strong sun; turn green by late summer). White flowers
in late spring and early summer 2.4 × 1.8m (8 × 6ft).
Deciduous shrub. Many varieties
with yellow flowers all summer
1.2 × 1.2m (4 × 4ft).
Herbaceous perennial. Sprays of
bright yellow flowers in late summer and early autumn 30cm–1.5m × 30–60cm (12in–5ft × 12in–2ft), according to variety.