A lot of mystery is often made out what looks good with what in the garden.
When I first started gardening making an entire bed work together was overwhelming, but finding just two plants that looked good together seemed like something I could do.
As it happens, the plants themselves often suggested their own dates.
Here are a few of the basic types of pairings from my garden. Contrasts can be good, but I find plant pairs that share common traits, such as the upright habit shared by “May Night” salvia and the pyramidal boxwood behind it make for a strong team. Their colors contrast, but are of the same intensity, so they “go” and are easy lovers who don’t try to outshine one another.
Another easy pair is this Hakone grass with a dwarf variegated goatsbeard. This is a shade pairing with close color echoes and a contrast in habit. The grass is flowy and drapes over the brick edging, while the goatsbeard is shrubby and adds backbone to the pairing.
This pair, a blue variegated hosta and a clump of ghost fern are so perfect for each other they always stop me in my tracks. A chance meeting bloomed into true love when I moved this smaller hosta away from competing variegated ones. A pairing for sun that works great is this baptisia and white bearded iris. The feathery leaves of the baptisia contrast with the spearlike leaves of the iris. The violet-blue flowers of the baptisia have a touch of yellow at the base that echo the yellow beards on the iris. These two are carefree and have provided many babies to give away to those who’ve admired their combined beauty.
And finally, two wispy, delicate types found each other in the front bed and it was a match. These old-fashioned coral bells love to snuggle up with deschampsia, “Shottland,” sometimes called tufted hair grass. The tiny bells of bright coral really shine against the thin bright green leaves of this shade tolerant ornamental grass.
Sometimes, playing matchmaker is what I love best about working in the garden.