Every designer has their go to medium, be it paint, clay, metal, or in my case, plants. There are endless choices and usually several plants that can be used in any given situation. Plant choices can also be highly subjective depending on the designer, and each of us has our own all-stars. Here are a few of my favorite plant combinations:
Spring: Scilla and Tete a Tete Daffodil are great complimentary bulbs. They bloom at the same time in early spring and are about the same height. Scilla will typically reach a height of 4-6” and Tete a Tete Daffodil will grow to 10” tall. The striking combination of blue and gold brings life back to a garden that has been starved of color for the winter months.
Summer Sun: Catmint ‘Kit Kat’ , Geranium ‘Bevan’s Variety’ (available for purchase online!), and Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ combine to make a beautiful early summer statement in the garden. When planted in alternating drifts, these three perennials add calming colors to any planting bed border and give you extended bloom times.
Summer Shade: Oak Sedge and Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ add color and texture to shady areas in the garden. The soft grass like texture of Oak Sedge is contrasted by the big bold leaves of ‘Blue Angel’. Both Hosta and Sedge are low-care plants and do not require extensive watering.
Fall: Sumac ‘Tiger Eyes’ and Amsonia ‘Halfway to Arkansas’ add bold color to the garden late in the season. The course texture of ‘Tiger Eyes’ pairs well with the delicate appearance of ‘Halfway to Arkansas’. Planting a group of these Amsonia in front of a grouping of Sumac ‘Tiger Eyes’ also helps hide the latter's lower, less attractive branches.
Winter: Juniper 'Kallay’s Compact’ and Dogwood ‘Arctic Fire’ (available for purchase online!) are great companion plants. The year-round consistent blue-green color of the Juniper creates a great foreground for the vibrant red–orange stems of Artic Fire Dogwood in winter. Add a fresh layer of snow and these two rock star plants really stand out.
As any gardener will tell you, trial and error is the best way to learn about which plant pairings you enjoy most, but hopefully the pairings above give you a good head start.
Nathan Robinson’s background in landscape design and project management allows him to see opportunity in any project. He partners with his clients to create spaces that fit the needs of their families, while also creating stunning visual impact. Nate is an Illinois native and proud graduate of the University of Illinois’ Landscape Architecture program. In his time away from the office, he enjoys hiking, landscape photography and spending time along the lakefront with his two Australian Shepherds.
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Extremes in summer weather have taken a toll on gardens… and planters, too. I dare anyone to say their formerly beautiful containers look exactly the way they’d like as fall becomes fact. Since we still have lots of time before winter, why not enjoy that time with feast-for-the-eyes gorgeous pots? I asked Earl Lieske, III, Chalet’s Wilmette planter guru, what trends he’s creating for fresh fall container gardening fashions.