OYO Design Blog

And the answer is…chartreuse!

As the cover scan shows, I stole this week’s title from the latest issue of Fine Gardening magazine, which choose to highlight this versatile, hardworking foliage color in the February edition. As it also happens to be one of my personal favorites, how could I not make it the star of my first newsletter of the new year?

Existing on the spectrum between green and yellow, chartreuse adds vibrancy and contrast to traditional garden greens, without hogging the spotlight the way red-foliaged plants and flashy flowers often seem to do (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Here are three ways chartreuse can wake up your own garden.

Make plums and burgundies pop

If your climate is hot and dry like mine, you probably look to silver foliage when choosing plants to highlight the reds in your garden, as so many silver-hued Mediterranean plants like lavender and lamb’s ears are both well-adapted and readily available. For a warmer alternative, consider instead combining chartreuse with some of the burgundy plants in your garden. Red and green are complimentary colors, making this combination more eye-catching and memorable than the more expected red and silver. Pictured in this combo: Ninebark (Podocarpus ‘Diablo’) and Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’)

Reinvent an old favorite

Bringing in chartreuse doesn’t mean you have to trade in proven garden staples for temperamental unknowns. Many of your favorite gray and silver-foliage plants also boast a chartreuse cultivar, including Catmint (Nepeta ‘Limelight’) and Lamb’s Ears (Stachys ‘Primrose Heron’). Pro tip: many plants such as the Licorice Plant (Helichrysum ‘Limelight’) pictured here, are considered full-sun plants, but will generally boast a softer, more subtle hue closer to green when planted in part shade.

Brighten a shade garden

And speaking of shade, chartreuse kills in the dimmest corners of your garden. Plants like Carex ‘Everillo’ and Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) act as the missing sunshine, creating bright focal points while adding zing and dimension.

And as long as I’m on the topic of Fine Gardening, you can listen to my tips on designing foundation plants on the latest edition of their podcast Let’s Argue About Plants. I start at minute 31.

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