Landscaping ideas to decorate with purple and lavender colors

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The older I got, the more I learned to appreciate anything that makes me feel cooler in the summer.

I keep Barrow, Alaska on the weather app on my phone just so I can know someone somewhere is shivering. And I use plants with visually refreshing colors that will tone down the heat.

This is the case with lavenders and violets. These are colors that tame the sun, but they blend with yellows and oranges – two of the most vibrant colors we grow.

Please let me introduce you to my favorite landscaping sources of purple and lavender. Hope you make some new friends from my list.

Althaea (Rose of Sharon). People who love hibiscus but hate to see them freeze late in the season should love this shrub. It is completely winter hardy throughout Texas. Different varieties will mature at 6 to 15 feet in height and 5 to 10 feet in width. The flowers can be single or double, they can be pink, pinkish-red, lavender or white or two-tone. It’s great in the sun.

Angelonia. These wonderful annuals first appeared about 25 years ago, and they’ve only gotten better since then. Use them on the back of a floral border or use them as a tall plant in a patio container. They grow to 10 to 15 inches tall, and they range in color from purple to pink, to blue and white.

Crepe myrtles. There are around 125 varieties of this most popular southern flowering shrub. Of these, at least 30 or 40 are lavender or purple. Frankly, I have to tell you that my favorite of all is ‘Catawba’, a pretty purple guy. But whichever purple variety you choose, you’ll have the benefit of having a plant that will pair well with all other crepe myrtle colors. It wouldn’t be summer in Texas without them.

Fanflowers. I remember the first time I grew this large annual flower. I bought it from a hanging basket and immediately put it in a large patio pot so it could spill over the edges and drop down to the ground. Blue flowers are the rarest color, and perhaps the best of all blues. Use it in the ground, in baskets or in pots, and prepare to be thrilled.

Perilla. In all of its iterations, it looks like a coleus. It is a spectacular annual, but it tolerates the sun better than coleus. The variety ‘Magilla’ exhibits absolutely spectacular colors throughout the season. It is a hardy cultivator and a wonderful plant for large containers or for the back of the color bed.

Purple fountain grass. With all the interest in ornamental grasses, this one has become a rock star. In North Texas, it is an annual, which means it freezes and dies in the winter. However, for six or seven months, it will provide you with rich dark purple foliage and purple flowers that will eventually turn a tan. It is particularly attractive at the back of the flower bed with colorful annuals in front.

Purple heart. It is completely winter hardy in North Texas. It freezes to the ground the first nighttime temperatures drop below 32F, but it grows back in the spring. It has rich purple foliage all season long, so it looks good in a rock garden or mixed with perennials. It’s polite and beautiful.

Mexican petunia. The original Mexican petunia are extremely aggressive and grow to the point of being invasive. Katie’s dwarf ruellia, by comparison, is ultimately compact and beautiful. It produces blue flowers at the top of its plants the size of a volleyball court.

Autumn sage (Salvia greggii). It is the most popular of all salvias. Over the past 35 years, growers have brought us almost every shade of white, pink, salmon, rose-red, red, bicolor and purple. And, it’s this purple that I want to include here. Purple fall sage will bloom from spring until frost. It’s not the most common color, but if it’s purple you want, it’s worth a look.

Ornamental sweet potato. These creeping vines came into common use about 20 years ago, and now you see them all over town. There are chartreuse types and purple leaf types. Some types tend to grow aggressively, so give them plenty of room. Yes, they will produce yams, but don’t try to eat them. They are huge and they are woody.

Lantana trailing lavender. If I could only have two or three lavender or purple flowers, this would be one of them. It is so reliable. There has never been a place too hot for it, and there has never been a place too sunny for it. It’s excellent in beds and it looks great in large patio containers and large hanging baskets. There is a white flowered shape which is a nice addition.

Gomphrena (amaranth globe). Our grandmothers grew gomphrenas and called them “bachelor’s buttons”. However, many of us grew up knowing of another handcrafted plant by this name. Gomphrenas can be enjoyed in the garden, or they can be cut and hung upside down to dry.

You can hear Neil Sperry on KLIF 570AM on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on WBAP 820 p.m. on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Join him on www.neilsperry.com and follow him on Facebook.

This story was originally published June 18, 2021 at 5.30 am.

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