The Stonehouse Gardening Club found it quite an experience to visit the gracious gardens of Highnam Court on a slightly chill September evening. The landscape was suffused with intense colour. The light was low, but there was sunlight lancing through dark clouds to illuminate the gem-bright flowers and the water gardens. It is a traditional garden, privately owned, and beautifully restored by its owner to match the fine seventeenth century house. What was particularly striking about Highnam Court was that the fairly extensive grounds were clad in beautifully manicured grass, and plants were massed against the brilliant green of these sweeping lawns to create broad drifts of colour.
Although it is popular to buy plug plants for mixed colours when planting a border, say, or to get packets of seeds that will produce flowers in a mix of colours, having one mass of colour in a bed is very appealing. A mass of white roses sparkles in the midst of a green edged border in a summer bed, as seen in this section of Highnam Court’s rose garden. It has much more visual impact than a motley mix of colours.
When mixing colours, instead of picking up a packet of seeds to get pre-mixed colour blooms, choose your colour scheme yourself. In the herbaceous garden at Highnam Court, the mix of colours was intense and rich, for instance with dark purplish- bronze sambuca nigris at the back of the bed, with swathes of bright lavender delphinium in front, pale pink and white gaura lindheim, and creamy stipa tenuissima rippling in the breeze like a rushing peaty brook.
You don’t always need a mix of colours. Sometimes less is more. Whey not design your planting scheme in shades of green for a rather sophisticated look? Lime green trees planted in emerald green lawns with taller blue green grasses spiking above them, and with inky-green shrubs juxtaposed in between can look delightful, especially if you also have a shadowed pool reflecting dark green and other shades on its silky moving surface.