Everyone has their favorite color combination and mine is blooming around town this spring: chartreuse and purple. For me, chartreuse is a beautiful hint of spring – something new, young and vibrant. Purples feel soothing to me, calming and tranquil. When it comes to my backyard haven, I would love to lounge around in a place that feels fresh and calm.

It’s funny that I have come around to this palette. I had a roommate as an undergrad who threw this color all over our room. Her bed spread, backpack, wall hangings, lamp, even her pens and pencils were a bright lavender and lime combo. So I’m not advocating I paint my life in these colors. But for an outdoor “room”, it just draws me toward it.

The flowering trees in these pictures are of Cercis canadensis (common name: Eastern Redbud). This is a beautiful tree that blooms in the spring and has lovely yellow fall color. You might search around to see if there is a native version in your part of the country. The flowers are edible and, although they don’t taste very distinct, they would be really pretty on a delicate spring salad. Ooooh, or maybe sprinkled on cupcakes? Wow, I’m getting carried away…

The evergreen backbone of this little garden arrangement is the purple-blooming variety of Azalea. It is an evergreen, so there is nice structure here in the winter months. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cultivars of azalea. This one will probably bloom from about April-May.

Euphorbia is the chartreuse, outer-space looking plant. It is not considered invasive (yet), but it can take over an area if you don’t keep an eye on it. There are lots of cultivars of Euphorbia that range from dark olive greens to peachy colors.

And finally, there is this dark, low-to-the-ground Ligularia. It adds a nice ground layer to the planting. The texture is a nice balance to the fern-like Euphorbia and the rounded Azalea. And that dark purple makes the bright colors pop. In the summer it will shoot up yellow spikes of blossoms to almost 4′ in height.

I think this arrangement works because it is a simple palette that was planted en masse. There is a good balance between an evergreen shrub layer, the beautiful bark of the Redbud, and the seasonal color. I wonder if you have a color palette you try to stick to, or is it a combination of whatever grabbed your eye at the nursery?

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