Homes & Gardens shows you how to use soft, powder-coloured plants, paints, furniture and accessories to create a calm, restful haven of a garden for this summer
Taking our cue from that perennial favourite, Vita Sackville-West’s famous White Garden at Sissinghurst in Kent, here are some simple ways to use a pale powder colour palette effectively in your garden.
Soft subtle shades will create a sense of calm, a restful haven away from the hectic pace of daily life. Think duck egg blue pastel pink, pale greys and stone: tones that will blend into quiet schemes when combined with lavish greenery.
You will find pleasing selections of powdery shades in numerous outdoor paint and wood stain ranges. Why not try the following: White Lead 74 by Farrow & Ball; Gauze Deep 165 and Milk Thistle 187, both Little Greene; Sable and Duck Egg, both Laura Ashley; and Forest Mushroom by Cuprinol.
Apply to masonry and timber, complement with simple wooden or pale-hued furniture and lift the look with mirrored and watery-coloured glass accessories.
For harmonious notes, try planting
Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ with Astrantia ‘Roma’, Foeniculum vulgare
‘Giant Bronze’ and the apricot-coloured foxglove, Digitalis x mertonensis.
A pale, gently weathered finish gives this cast iron bench and table a sense of faded grandeur, set within a shaded patio garden, surrounded by foxgloves, bamboo, ferns and the variegated foliage of Acuba japnoica ‘Crotonifolia’.
Sunbleached woods and wicker accessories are perfect materials to create, quickly and easily, a setting that looks as if it has been in place for years. Complete the bucolic scene with simple cottage garden-inspired planting; for a long-eared, white-flowering lavender like the one seen here, try Lavender x intermedia ‘Edelweiss’, which flowers from July to September.
Make sure your garden retains its powder-coloured cast all year round by not only keeping your painted furniture and surfaces in good order, but by choosing as wide a seasonal range of plants as possible. The delicate but easy-to-grow perennial, the hellebore (above, Helleborus x hybridus), will provide you with a hit of pale beauty during the winter months, and sometimes as early as Lent. Despite its common name of Christmas or Lenten rose, however, the plant is entirely unrelated to the rose, and in fact belongs to the Ranunculaceae family.
“Make the most of them and plant them close to a window or somewhere you walk past daily,” says Alex Rennie, Head Gardener at Broadview Gardens, Hadlow College, Kent, which holds a National Collection of Hellebores. “I interplant them with snowdrops and aconites, and as they are greedy in groups, I place them in ribbons through mixed borders, where herbaceous planting gives them dappled shade in summer. For a good dome of foliage throughout the summer, try Helleborus argutifolius, which looks particularly good with lavender.”
A pale powdery palette can help relieve the intensity of an-all-green planted garden, and add a soft note to the clean-cut lines of a contemporary design. Here, a raised terrace lined with pale grey stone tiles is echoed by a grey-painted wall panel that not only breaks up the lines of the borders; the panel and three others like it in the garden act as “image catchers”: when the light shines through the trees, it appears to draw shadowy moving images across the panels, like graphite on a paper.
Some of the palest plants have the strongest of scents, including this (above), the flowers of Clematis montana. One of the joys of early summer, its flowers have a spicy clove fragrance and as its name implies, it loves to climb and drape itself romantically over anything. The clematis is surprisingly easy to use all year round so again, think about your winter garden and try growing the creamy bells of ‘Ourika Valley’, which opens in the depths of winter, or C. rehderiana, which blooms until November.
The washed-out appearance of seagrass furniture is the perfect finishing touch for your powder-hued haven. Dressed with starch-creamy white cushions and complimented with woven aluminium accessories, the look is southern comfort, classic country and a dash of Scandinavian purity, all rolled into one. Take a look at the collections by Riviera Maison, Flamant and Nordic House to create your own version.
For more gardening ideas, visit the Homes & Gardens website.