Plant combinations (Blue, purple and pink)

Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) is a highly scented shrub. An evergreen, it provides flowers and attracts beneficial insects. It prefers a full sun aspect but can cope with partial shade. It flowers early to mid summer. Pruning is very similar to Lavender. After flowering, just take the top off lightly.

Lavender is a popular choice mainly for the scent. It does prefer an alkaline soil so on the chalky side. It needs to be free draining so lighter is better. There are French (Lavendula dentata) and English (Lavendula angustifolia) varieties and their characteristics make them separable. French have little ears resembling those of Rabbits, slightly lighter lilac colour, more frost tender. English is a deeper purple and the plumes are upright. Prune the top growth after they have flowered or in spring when it has warmed up. Be mindful to leave some green growth at the base and is more an exercise of reshaping. It will stop them getting leggy / straggly.

Daphne odora is a scented shrub that provides flowers and foliage from late winter into spring. It doesn’t require any maintenance. It is worth mentioning the flowers form on last years wood so any pruning, do straight after it has flowered. Other than the odd rogue branch, it keeps its shape well. It prefers a sunny aspect and perhaps not tolerant of very dry conditions.

Perovskia (Russian sage) is not really a shrub but effective in a mixed border. It needs to be cut back each year, it dies back. It will flower in summer, tolerant of drought conditions too. It’s good in poor soil, has purple flowers and aromatic foliage. It will look like its dead in the dormant period and will come into its own, springtime, round about now.

Azalea japonica prefer a more shaded area but will provide an abundance of colour from mid spring to summer. ‘Aladdin Scott’ is an orange variety suited to an acidic soil as with Azaeleas. There are both decidious A. ‘Jolie Madame’ (Pink) and evergreen A. ‘Chippewa’ varieties. Some scented A. ‘Tower beauty’ and some not ‘Homebush’.

Syringa meyeri (Lilac) ‘Paliban’ a dwarf variety that is highly scented and provides pink, perfumed blooms in late spring. S. vulgaris the most common ‘Belle de Nancy’ and provides double blooms early in the summer. Cut out any epicormic growth if it appears (suckers) it drains the shrub. It prefers an alkaline soil, the soil needs to be quite rich in humus matter too. It should have substance but nevertheless be well drained.

Buddleja davidii is the most common and attracts butterflies amongst other insects. It is hardy, drought tolerant and will cope with harsh pruning in spring. This will promote new and healthy growth. The pruning, from an emerging bud maybe a third down. It is fast growing and the shrub will return to its desired state quickly. Buddleja’s are usually purple and blue but B. globosa is orange and flowers in summer. It needs more protection than its relatives and B. globosa needs to be sheltered not exposed.

Weigela prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade. Prune periodically to a) control the size and b) encourage young growth. The shrub / small tree will perform better. W. florida ‘variegata’ benefits from attractive gilded leaves. It will lose its leaves but through summer will provide you with highly scented blooms that attract beneficial insects.

Spirea have two flowering periods. A variety that performs in spring and one later mid summer to autumn. The downside is the blooming period doesn’t last long – so they are shortlived. However, very easy to look after. A resilient, robust choice that only requires a harsh prune at the beginning of the year. It prefers full sun but other than this self sufficient.

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I'm Craft Gardener with several years experience. Due to the massive impact the internet has had on advice, forums and consultancy services - it seems knowledge and experience is everchanging and we should therefore share techniques and offer others alternative routes in pests, diseases and weed treatments. The very smallest alterations in aspect, soil conditioning and pruning can determine a plants vigour, health and lifespan hugely. My blogs and online assistance should motivate and interest even the most amateur of green fingered people. As my ex partner used to say "it's green isn't it"?