Burgundy foliage in the garden can be used most effectively when paired with the right hues. First, be mindful of your backdrop. Dark leaves don't show up on dark backgrounds. They just don't, so don't put them there. If you have a dark-red brick house, don't plant a ninebark against it. The burgundy leaves of the ninebark will show off much better against white or gray.
My favorite way to use burgundy foliage is to pair it with blue - blue hostas in shade, blue grasses and blue evergreens in sunny spots. Below left is 'Little Devil' Ninebark (Physocarpus opifolius) and 'Shining Sensation' Weigela (right) with 'Prairie Sky' switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the middle' and 'Northwind' switchgrass. (shown in next collage).
Add the blush flower heads of Hydrangea 'Quick Fire' or 'Limelight' (center), and the blue-green needles of a Juniper (left) and you have the perfect recipe for a sunny, low-maintenance shrub border.
- Tracy Hankwitz, BGC Store Manager
Not the blades and needles that first may come to mind. I am talking about the soft, arching blades of ornamental grasses paired with the stiff, rough texture of evergreen needles. It's a simple, winning combination and low-maintenance, too. Let me introduce you to a couple of my favorite combos:
Wells' Weeper Spruce (Picea glauca) & Molinia 'Skyracer' (shown above)
These photos just don't do this duo justice. They really look smashing together. Wells' Weeper Spruce is a Black Spruce variety. It's graceful weeping habit makes a blue-green backdrop to showcase the wispy, see-through stems of 'Skyracer' Molinia. Monrovia describes 'Skyracer' best: "Abundant spikes of tiny purplish flowers rise well above the foliage clumps, giving a shimmering effect when back-lit by the sun. Golden hued fall foliage is enhanced by the tall plumes of coppery bronze seed heads." This grass is a well-behaved, must-have for the garden! Add color with Autumn Joy Sedum for a stunning fall display.
Wells' Weeper needs some room for it's mature height of 20'. 'Skyracer' visually balances it with it's flowering height of 6-8'.
A low-growing combination that I like to use is Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' and Alpine Carpet Juniper (shown above). The fine texture of this fountain-like grass compliments the rough, course texture of this short-needled Juniper. Add an interesting boulder to complete the look. 'Adagio' grows 3-4' and Alpine Carpet covers the ground growing 8"x3'.
- Tracy Hankwitz
Horticulturist & BGC Store Manager
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