10 Mauve and Purple Flowers for Your Garden
I love to grow plants in my garden in matching tones. They won't all be the same color, but there will be a definite theme in certain areas of the garden.
Nearly all the photographs of purple and mauve flowers shown below are pictures of plants in my own garden.
Choose Your Colors Carefully
Some gardeners like a profusion of multi-coloured bedding plants with an orderly row of low-growing plants in front, but I prefer blocks of colour.
I don't believe that just because it's a natural mixture of colours it must be good—I think one can improve on nature, and this is what I would like to show you here.
A tasteful blending of tones is what I like to go for. A few contrasting flowers, yes—but a mish-mash of "anything goes," certainly not!
You will also find here a useful reference book with a gardening theme and a video for the artists among us who would like to improve on their skills.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.— John Keats
1. Lychnis Coronaria
Also known as rose campion, Lynchnis coronaria is one of my favourite plants, with silvery-grey silky leaves and small, bright cerise-to-mauve flowers.
Lychnis flowers in summer, and the colour of the flowers is so intense that they are almost luminous. They grow about 1.5 to 2 feet high, the branching stems bearing numerous flowers.
If you snip off the flower heads after they have died, the plants continue to flower prolifically throughout the summer.
Every year, I cut my lavatera right back, almost to the ground, and the following year they grow up about 10 feet tall with a wide spread. They are a lovely pinky-mauve colour and look good with other plants in the same colour spectrum—I grow mauve wild geraniums, pink phlox and purple lavender next to them, and they look heavenly all summer.
They start flowering in late spring or early summer and will normally continue into late autumn or early winter. If the winter is mild, however, they will continue to flower until January—mine did that.
3. Black Lily
Although it's called Black lily, you can see from the picture that it's actually purple.
This is a spectacular, shade-loving plant with beautifully shaped leaves that appear in spring and die back in summer. The flower has a definitive lily shape, with Gothic connotations because of the gloomy colour.
There are two drawbacks if you are considering growing this plant. Firstly, it smells rank, and secondly, the flowers only last for two or three days, a week at most. Nonetheless, I think it is worth growing for its interesting characteristics.
4. Purple Clematis
Clematis has many different varieties in the colour spectrum of various shades from whites and pinks to blues and mauves.
The roots need to be in the shade, but the rest of it likes sunshine. As it is a climber, this is not a problem. You can just plant it at the back of the garden border along a sunny wall or fence where bottom of the plant is protected by other plants growing in front of it.
This didn't work too well for me last year, however, as it was behind a huge and healthy lavatera (the one you see in the photograph above), and the beautiful purple clematis flowers in bloom could hardly be seen.
This year, I am growing some more clematis up a trellis on a wall next to my lounge window, so that I can look out and see it . . . heavenly!
5. Ajuga Reptans
With its purple flowers, Ajuga reptans is good for ground cover. It is an attractive, low-growing plant with deep purple flowers and mauve leaves and spreads quite well.
Ajuga tends to dry out in hot weather, so it needs to be watered in summer. It has a very long flowering period, and the small flowers just keep coming. I grow it in my rockery and at the front of the flower border as ground cover.
What About Monochrome Gardens?
Sometimes, gardeners get a bee in their bonnet about rather advanced garden design, such as growing only plants of one particular colour—for example, the famous white garden at Sissinghurst in England.
One of my friends is trying to do just this, but it is quite difficult to completely clear your garden of colour and just plant white flowers, whilst still ensuring there are flowers throughout the flowering season. Does this idea appeal to you?
Would you ever choose to have a garden where all the flowers are in a narrow tone range?
Verbena is a plant with small flowers that can grow very tall. The verbena above has flowered all summer, and even in mid-November, there are still flowers in bloom. I planted it in the wrong place though—at the front of my rockery—whereas it would look better flowering towards the back of a border.
Well, you may wonder why I planted such a tall plant where it towered over all the other flowers and plants. There was some logic: I thought it was the shorter variety of verbena, which grows to a height of about 9 inches. I never realized there was a tall variety.
Thinking forward, I think it would look particularly gorgeous in with yellow verbascum, which is also tall, and a few tall grasses and eryngium and echinops to emphasise the tones of purple. You can just see my verbascum quite a bit further back, in the centre of the picture. That was also in the wrong place, being far too tall to stand in the rockery.
There are many different varieties of hellebore. The one in the picture is a rather special one that I bought from The Royal Horticultural Society.
Hellebore is a perennial. When the leaves turn brown, you can just cut them back, and maybe keep some of the seed pods to plant.
Be careful though, because you can get an allergic skin reaction from contact with the sap from the seed pods. So don't handle them for more than a couple of minutes, and wash your hands afterwards.
(Note: I once had very serious poisoning from large white hellebores. I have written about it and you can see the photographs in Poisonous Plants: Hellebore, Oleander and Vinca or Periwinkle.)
Osteospermum is a daisy-like flower and comes in several colors. I chose the one shown in the picture for my garden because I love the delicate shades of pale mauve to white, with grey undertones.
The petals open up in sunlight and close when the sun goes down, or when the weather is not very bright. I love to see the variations in a single day—if I get up early at dawn and go out to see it, the petals are quite tightly closed.
Osteospermum is an easy plant to grow and just needs to be deadheaded as the flowers fade, in order to encourage more flowering. Then cut them back once flowering has ceased in winter, to make a nice compact plant for the following year. It flowers over a long period of time and seems to be happy in full sun or partial shade.
Also known as vinca, periwinkle is a low-growing plant, which makes it good ground cover. It has shiny dark green leaves and beautiful purple flowers in spring, and continues flowering sporadically throughout the rest of the year. Vinca Minor has smaller flowers and leaves, and Vinca Major is a larger plant, but looks similar.
Periwinkle will grow under trees. If you are not careful to restrict its growth, it will cover a rockery completely in about three years.
Hostas flower briefly in late summer in wonderful shades of purple and white.
These purple flowers look beautiful, but my hostas mostly get eaten by slugs, so the flowers last for even less time than they should. It only takes one slug or snail to escape from my various slug treatments, and voom, leaves and flowers are gone in a night.
I like this photo of a hosta in full bloom, which I took in my garden, but it is certainly not representative of the sort of hostas I grow, which usually look a bit sad.
My Favourite Gardening Manual
This is a marvellous reference book, and one which I constantly refer to. It not only describes the plants, but gives you ideas about colours and growing conditions, second to none. I have learned so much from using this specialist information.
How Do You Like to Organize Your Garden?
Do you like to have large color blocks of similar shades, or do you like to mix your borders?
I sometimes have mine changing to different swathes of color as the seasons change: starting off with yellow daffodils in spring, then lots of pink and white in summer, followed by orange and red in late summer and finally back to pink again, with a few bright orange nasturtiums and red cotoneaster berries until the cold weather kills them off.
What Do You Like Most About Your Garden?
How to Paint Purple Flowers
Questions & Answers
I want to paint a brick garden wall deep lavender with trellis on the top half. What do you think?
It would look unusual, but this is no bad thing. It would not be to my taste, but everyone is different, so go by your own feeling about it.
If it was me, and I was unsure, I would take a photograph of the relevant area, and then, using Photoshop or some similar photographic programme, I would color the wall the deep lavender tone you have in mind, and then consider whether to go ahead with that particular colour, making sure that any plants you grow there have flowers that look good against that color.
© 2011 Diana Grant