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Ultraviolet a trendy new green

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Named the colour of the year, it can be used in many ways in our gardens with its variety of tints and tones

Pantone is considered to be the global authority on colour, working with fashion houses, industry, interior decorators and landscapers to predict colour trends. This year it has named ultraviolet as the colour of the year, described as thoughtful and provocative with originality and vision, a colour “between passionate red violets and strong indigo purples”.

In its full intensity, ultraviolet makes a stylish, positive statement; muted, it blends easily with other colours. Combined with smoky grey, ultra violet is subtle and sophisticated; with gold it becomes luxurious; and with orange, bold and modern.

It is seen in fiery sunsets that paint the sky in gold and peach, in orange, red and violet, and in the deepening shadowy evening tones of indigo, violet and purple.

In the garden

Flowers in tints and tones of violet and purple can be used in many ways in the garden. Drape an arbour with wisteria, an obelisk with violet-purple clematis and sweet peas. Give a pathway a ribbon of frilled irises in lavender, violet, gold and bronze, a birdbath an edging of violet-purple pansies.

Plant a wildflower patch with dierama, watsonia, sutera and scabious among fountains of golden grass.

Try a lavender-purple and apricot theme in a border. Thread Plectranthus “Mona Lavender”, heliotrope and catmint through roses Ingrid Kast, Zulu Royal, Vodacom and Rhapsody in Blue, and roses in glowing apricot and peach, Antico Amore, Deloitte & Touche, Garden and Home and Rosafrica.

Repeat the apricot and peach shades with irises, day lilies, dahlias, snapdragons and achillea.

Don’t limit the potential of ultraviolet to plants in your garden. Paint pots, obelisks in borders and arches, a garden bench, a wall, or a toolshed door and window frame. Introduce this glorious colour on patios and indoors with African violets, cyclamen, bromeliads and orchids. Exploring new ways forward in plant breeding, Petunia “Night Sky” is a deep indigo-purple with small and large white spots. The pattern can vary depending on the day-night temperatures.

Drape an arbour in violet-purple clematis. Pictured, “Daniel Deronda”. Picture: Warren Schmidt

Dreamers and drought

Gardeners are known to be dreamers who, year after year, plan their dream gardens. Despite storms and damaging winds, bitter cold and searing heat, floods and drought, they continue to believe their gardens will recover and be even more beautiful.

Gardeners in the Cape do not have to abandon their dreams as the city grapples with severe water restrictions, but they must keep those dreams on hold for later, when the rains come.

In the meantime, they must adapt their dreams and their gardens to withstand these severe conditions by concentrating on which plants are most likely to survive.

Fortunately, the 2018 colour of the year has many plants that are drought tolerant. Tough beauties include Agapanthus “Amethyst”, A “Black Pantha” with almost black buds opening to violet-blue, alyssum, bougainvillea, callicarpa berries, dimorphotheca, echinops, gazania, gomphrena, lavenders, osteospermum, Pelargonium sidoides, cobalt-blue Salvia “Black and Blue”, purple-blue S “Mystic Spires” and S “Midnight Blue”, Salvia leucantha, tibouchina, verbena, vinca and zinnia.

There are ice plants, vygies with glistening daisy-like flowers, and bromeliads like guzmanias that are richly coloured.

Gaps between paving stones can be planted with portulaca, a heat-resistant annual with cup-shaped flowers that includes violet-purple, and verbena in hot pink and purple for driveways and verges.

Ultraviolet for bees

Flowers often have nectar guides invisible to the human eye that reflect ultraviolet light, signposts directing bees to the source of pollen or nectar. White flowers absorb ultraviolet and appear blue-green to the bee. A bee-friendly garden favours yellow, white, blue and purple flowers, such as alyssum, borage, felicia, gazania, lavender, polygala, protea, rosemary, sage, salvia, scabious, sunflower and thyme.

Colourful vegetables

There are colourful vegetables, both above and below soil level. Be creative in your vegetable garden and use this glorious colour of the year to paint focal points, such as a garden gate, an arch, oversize pots, an old chair, and obelisks and wigwams that support climbing vegetables.

Plant delicious and healthy purple vegetables and herbs to add colour to your vegetable patch and to your plate. These include broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, oregano, basil, thyme and chives.

Unsure of where to use ultraviolet? Grow some flowers in this colour in pots and move the pots around the garden to see where they look best. If you are unsure about introducing them into an existing colour scheme, rather group them in all their various tints and tones in one area.

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