When a three-part color harmony relies solely on flowers, its timing must be in sync. Group three plants that should bloom about the same time in the season to make an effective trio. A late-spring design could include Oriental poppy, iris, and delphinium. Plan late-blooming replacements and extend the trio into midsummer. Let blue larkspur take over for the iris and add annual poppies to fill in after the Oriental poppy foliage fades.
What's the easiest way to start thinking in threes? Take a favorite flowering shrub, such as a rose or a long-blooming perennial, then showcase it with two foliage partners. Select foliage for its shape but also for factors such as fall color and tones that pick up color in the flowers' petals, stamens, or markings. Many flowers have golden stamens, so gold foliage often makes a good partner for them.
Triple the potential fragrance of roses by partnering them with small- and medium-height herbs. Versatile herbs possess aromatic appeal and they repel pests and soilborne diseases. Herbs also function as border edgers, perennial partners, and background choruses. Many of them have culinary uses, too.
Sprays of bright-blue borage flowers and their prickly silver-green leaves add a glow to blooming companions. Borage makes a winning partner with peach and yellow roses. It grows easily and rapidly from seed.
Place a fine-texture haze of color behind brilliant flowers with angelica, bronze fennel, tarragon, or a taller Artemisia, such as 'Silver King'. Add chartreuse highlights, especially among red or orange flowers, with dill or an arbor of golden hops. Artemisia, lavender, rosemary, and clary sage shine silver spotlights on white-and-pink or white-and-lavender combos.
For edging color and texture, rely on parsley, chives, sage (especially the purple and tricolor varieties), and globe basil. Creeping varieties of thyme and mint pave edges and walkways with shades of gold, purple, and green.
Spring wears a mostly subdued color wardrobe, except for the bright yellow exultations of daffodils and forsythia. The season is typically depicted in soft pink, lavender, and blue. These three pastel colors work well together and separately when mixed with yellow-green, silver, and the white of blossoming fruit trees.
In spring, flowering bulbs appear first, often wearing complementary shades of purple or lavender and yellow. The earliest perennials soon follow and become colorful cover-ups for fading bulb foliage. Plant coral bells, periwinkle, dianthus, columbine, cushion spurge, and lady's mantle over and around spring bulbs.
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