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Even though a mostly green garden evokes a calm, serene feeling, I like to have some color contrast in the garden. When planting a new garden bed, I think about how the foliage colors will look and whether I need to add some contrast.

Balancing Green with Seasonal Color

In a front yard foundation planting, I have an Emerald Spreader Japanese yew, plus the evergreen perennials hellebore and autumn fern, which all have green foliage. When I purchased a dwarf Japanese maple to include, I chose one with year-round burgundy foliage. A row of Bobo hydrangeas have green foliage with white flowers that fade to pink. In front of them, I have three bronze-and-pink-colored coral bells, Heuchera villosa "Carnival Watermelon."

I plant tulips in that bed each fall and I always pick pinkish or red to blend with the pink and burgundy in the foundation bed. The autumn fern Brilliance looks amazing when it sends up new growth in spring that is a gold/bronze color.

In a bed in the backyard, I added the evergreen, yellow-leaved Sunshine ligustrum to an otherwise green bed, however, the seasonal flowers provide contrasting colors when they are in bloom. The yellow-and-red coreopsis right next to it blooms all summer as does the "Blue Fortune" agastache on the other side of the bed. Mums, lilies, irises, and roses fill the inside of the bed.

In another backyard bed, I have several daylilies, which have green foliage, but the daylilies are all different colors – rose, deep purple, pink, salmon, and cranberry. Two dwarf hydrangeas bloom white and fade to pink. They correspond with a pink garden phlox and a magenta butterfly bush. The Autumn Joy sedum blooms pink and fades to a darker pink, so it blends well with all the green foliage and shades of pink in the bed.

Even though I have a lot of green foliage - I didn’t even mention the iris bed - I don’t think it is too much green. Green in a garden is like a neutral color that serves as a cohesive background, holding it all together.

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.