Colour Themes

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.

Many ceanothus grow tall, so use
them where you need bold plants for
the back of a blue border. There are

both evergreen and deciduous kinds
of ceanothus.

Mixed borders

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
colours too.

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

Agapanthus hybrids

Deciduous to evergreen perennial.
Light to deep blue ball-shaped flower heads mid and late summer 45 × 75cm (18 × 30in).

Artemisia absinthium

Deciduous sub-shrub. Deeply divided silvery-grey leaves. Yellow flowers in
mid and late summer 1m × 60cm
(3 × 2ft).

Artemisia ludoviciana

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).

Delphinium hybrids

Herbaceous perennial. Tall flower
spikes in various shades of blue
1.8m × 60cm (6 × 2ft).

Festuca glauca

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).

Hemerocallis come in a range of
colours, but there are many good
yellow varieties, such as ‘Dutch

Nepeta × faassenii

Herbaceous perennial. Spike-like
heads of lavender-blue flowers all summer. Grey-green leaves 45 ×45cm (18 × 18in).

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Shrubby perennial. Feathery sprays of violet-blue flowers in late summer
and early autumn. Grey-green leaves 1.2m × 45cm(4ft × 18in).

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Evergreen shrub. Silvery, woolly
leaves on mound-forming plant.
Small yellow flowers in mid summer
45 × 45cm (18 × 18in).

Senecio ‘Sunshine’ (syn.
Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’)

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
S. olympica)

Almost evergreen herbaceous
perennial. Bold silvery leaves. Spikes
of purple flowers in mid summer
30 × 30cm (12 × 12in).

Yellow and gold

Achillea filipendulina

Herbaceous perennial. Flat heads of lemon-yellow flowers in mid and late summer 1 × 1m (3 × 3ft).

Alyssum saxatile

Evergreen shrubby perennial.
Golden-yellow flowers in mid and
late spring. Grey-green leaves
30 × 45cm (12 × 18in).

Anthemis tinctoria

Herbaceous perennial. Yellow daisy-
like flowers early to late summer.
‘E. C. Buxton’ is lemon-yellow,
‘Grallagh Gold’ is deep golden-yellow 75 × 45cm (212ft × 18in).

Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’

Deciduous shrub. Yellow foliage,
pale yellow flowers in mid spring.
Red berries in autumn 1.2 × 1.2m(4 × 4ft).

Delphiniums are some of the best
blue herbaceous border plants.

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).

Hemerocallis hybrids

Herbaceous perennial. There are
many yellow varieties, flowering throughout summer 1m × 75cm(3 × 212ft).

Hypericum ‘Hidcote’

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).

Potentilla fruticosa

Deciduous shrub. Many varieties
with yellow flowers all summer
1.2 × 1.2m (4 × 4ft).

Solidago hybrids

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.