Colour in winter

There are many different ways to provide colour in the garden in winter. Pots of annual colour are probably the easiest - there are pansies, cinerarias, primulas, calendula etc but why not also consider using some of our lovely native plants? At left is a snapshot of Ann and Ross's recently planted garden with an emphasis on colour, which was a joy to design. The large Maiko bowl is chockfull of mini Bush Passion kangaroo paws which flower all through winter and spring. 

Kangaroo paw breeders have now bred so many beautiful varieties of these perennials that you can have one in flower every day of the year. Kangaroo paws actually love liquid fertiliser. If you feed them every 2-4 weeks while they are in active growth - they will reward you with an abundance of bird attracting blooms for months on end. 

Getting back to annual colour and pots, potting up a few annuals with some trailing groundcovers and perhaps a few grasses thrown in is an inexpensive way to add a bit of oomph in your garden. It also helps to break up the boring beige-ness of it all which unfortunately Perth has become quite famous for.

As a designer, I think we need more flower power in our gardens. Without it, there is not a lot of biodiversity. Birds, bees and lizards in particular are attracted to the nectar inside coloured flowers.

Contrary to popular belief, we don't have to create a cottage garden to enjoy flowers. We can still enjoy our contemporary spaces with our grasses and bold succulents but this architectural look may be spiced up by the addition of a few well chosen flowering plants. Pots are a good compromise if you just want a small taste of floral decoration in your garden and aren't into flowering shrubs.

Even hanging baskets these days aren't as daggy as they used to be. Go to your local garden centre and you will find funky 1/2 cone shapes, hanging troughs and many other shapes to try. What I do recommend is to line them with bubblewrap or paperbark before you plant to prepare for summer, which will eventually come around again, as it always does! The other way to incorporate a bit of colour is in the vegie patch. Calendula, kale, vegies gone to seed and 5 colour silverbeet are but a few of the myriad of plants which enhance the visual aspect of your edible garden. And you can eat them. 

I am particularly inspired by a wonderful American gardener, Sydney Eddison who certainly knows her colour wheel. She is in her 80's now and is an excellent writer and designer who still travels around and lectures about colour. She has written a fantastic book, The Gardener's Palette - a sumptious visual feast for all those who love colour in the garden. She even goes as far as to use swatches of material to guide her in combining hues in the garden. I love this book!

There really is no end to how creative one can be in the garden, combining textures, colour and form. Sydney is a master this and has inspired me for many years in my design work. She is particularly fond of using bold plants like cannas and ornamental sweet potatoes in her pots along with dwarf ivies (keep them contained) and variegated geraniums.

A large container or urn planted with a couple of permanent perennials with interesting foliage combined with some annual flowers, changed seasonally can simply make a garden.

So why not cheer up your winter garden and add a bit of colour?