By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
If you’re scratching your head and wondering what constitutes a color echo, it’s all about repetition. This design technique is nothing more than the color of one plant “echoing” or repeating in another plant’s flowers or foliage. The cool thing about a color echo is that any color can be echoed no matter whether it’s on a tree, a shrub, a flower or a grass. They’re all fair game, which makes it a pretty fun and easy thing to accomplish. It also increases the visual interest in the garden.
Full of color, autumn is an exciting time in the garden. It can be made even better, and the season extended longer, by pairing fall bloomers and colorful foliage using color echoes. Here are three I think are worthy of a place in your garden.
This rosy pairing features pink anemone blossoms and the rosy purple foliage of coral bells.
When the rest of the garden might be losing steam, this duo is just getting started. In late August, the anemone’s soft pink buds atop slender stems give way to semi-double, rose pink flowers that dance above a tuft of deep green foliage. A gentle breeze is enough to set these flowers in motion, adding graceful movement to the garden. Standing approximately 20 to 26 inches tall, this fall bloomer sets the perfect backdrop for Primo® ‘Wild Rose’ coral bells whose rosy-hued foliage is a beautiful color echo of the anemone flowers floating above it.
Both perennials are hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4 and thrive in sun to part sun locations. You’ll find bees and butterflies feeding from the open flowers of the anemone until frost. While the coral bells produce small sprays of flowers that attract hummingbirds, its foliage is the main attraction.
In this pairing, feathery, golden fall foliage is echoed in yellow coneflowers.
Here’s a pairing of sun-loving nativars that’s sure to pack an autumnal punch in the landscape. But it wouldn’t be fair to peg ‘String Theory’ Amsonia strictly as a fall plant when the spring show is pretty impressive too. This late spring-blooming perennial produces periwinkle blue flowers atop a mass of dark green, threadleaf foliage. Don’t be fooled by its delicate looks. This is a durable perennial that thrives with little care and looks great all season.
Its golden fall encore makes it especially nice paired with Color Coded® ‘Yellow My Darling’ coneflowers. This summer to fall blooming perennial features large, fragrant, rich yellow flowers that proliferate on well-branched plants. It’s popular with pollinators too. Keep the flower show coming with regular deadheading, just be sure to let some seed heads develop in the fall. Winter birds will appreciate the food source.
Both plants are hardy to zone 4 and are drought tolerant once established.
Pink tones are echoed between sedum flowers and switch grass plumes in this fall landscape.
Ornamental grasses come alive in fall and Prairie Winds® ‘Apache Rose’ switch grass is quite a prolific late-season bloomer. At four feet tall, the densely upright structure makes it a wonderful choice for blocking views or as a specimen in the perennial border. In late summer, rose-colored seed panicles emerge from its grey-green foliage just as the pink blossoms of Rock ‘N Round® ‘Pride and Joy’ sedum begin to open. Perfectly dome-shaped mounds of succulent foliage become covered in rosy blooms that mature into interesting seed heads, extending the interest into winter.
Consider planting ‘Pride and Joy’ sedum in front of ‘Apache Rose’ switch grass for an interesting play on texture and shape, not to mention the pink color echo of two very different flower shapes. Both plants thrive in full sun and require minimal care. Prairie Winds® ‘Apache Rose’ switch grass is hardy in zones 4-9 while Rock ‘N Round® ‘Pride and Joy’ sedum can withstand slightly colder temps in zones 3-9.