Life Landscapes: Colour and Landscaping

Colour landscaping with indigenous plants

Red flowering trees: The coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon) is a superb indigenous tree for a hot spot.

Life Landscapes explains how to use colour in your landscapes, using indigenous plants. Discover how to use red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, pink and lilac-flowering indigenous flora in your landscape.

Red in landscaping

For all intensive purpose as red palette garden is a sunbird garden. Red is a bold, energetic colour and associated with passion, action, danger and war. It is eye-catching in the garden and best used in larger gardens where it can fully display it's energizing effect in Landscaping.

Red and nature in the garden
According to pollination theory, sunbirds are attracted to red as generally sunbirds are red plant pollinators. The weeping-boer bean (Schotia brachypetala) trees are known to attract sunbirds with their nectar-filled scarlet blooms.

Red flowering trees
The evergreen tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida) and any deciduous Erythrina species are a must have for a red palette South African garden.

Shrubs for a sunbird garden
Kruidjie-roer-my-nie (Melianthus comosus) or Kei bottle brush (Greyia flanaganii) are fantastic ruby-red flowering shrubs and will bring sunbirds.

Red flowering climbing plants
The flame creeper (Combretum microphyllum) is a strong climber shooting out arterial- blood-red flowers.

Flower planting list for a red palette garden
The coral senecio (Kleinia fulgens), Scarlet River lily (Hesperantha coccinea) and blood flower (Scadoxus multiflorus spp. katharinae) make wonderful red garden subjects in landscaping.
Orange in the landscaping: Aloes flower in winter.

Orange in the landscape

Orange is a happy and flamboyant hue in the colour spectrum. In landscaping there are countless orange flowering plants that possess autumn's signature colour. Orange flowering plants work well in conjunction with blue flowering plants. Orange is also a very edible colour with most of our fruits and veg being orange.

Orange and Naturescaping
Again, sunbirds are attracted to warm, fiery colours. The orange flowers of aloes are an important food source for bees and sunbirds in the winter months.

Trees for an orange palette garden.
There are no indigenous orange flowering trees in South Africa. The closest to an orange flowering tree is the coastal coral tree (Erythrina caffra) that has a terracotta tinge to it.

Orange flowering shrubs
The wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus) occurs country-wide and the Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) makes for super addition to an orange palette garden.

The black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an elegant apricot-orange flowering creeper suitable for any walls and trellises. The orange variety is the non-hybird variety.

Orange flowers
The marmalade flowers of South Africa's clivias and the Gerbera daisy have a worldwide reputation. Landscapers love flashy looks and the practicality of Falling stars (Crocosmia aurea).

Sunlover: The indigenous yellow Bauhinia tomentosa.

Yellow in landscaping

Yellow was the favourite colour of artist Vincent Van Gogh and dominated his landscape paintings. Yellow is a playful, happy colour most often associated with childhood. Known as a stimulator of creativity and memory. Landscapes designed with lots of yellow flowering plants have a happy disposition and stimulating effect on both children and employees. A "Van Gogh" garden is very effective for schools and playschools.

Naturescaping for a "van Gogh" garden

All of South Africa's Vachellia species have yellow flowers. Yellow is the favourite colour of bees and yellow flower are commonly pollinated by bees. The aurelian flowers of then bloodroot (Wachendorfia thyrsiflora ) are also a firm favourite among sunbirds.

Yellow flowering trees

The African wattle (Peltophorum africanum) is an iconic South African tree that gives an Acacia effect without the mess and gets sunshine yellow flowers.

Indigenous yellow shrubs

The yellow tree bauhinia is a must have in a yellow palette garden and it will attract a kaleidoscope of butterflies. The yellow grewia species also make for interesting garden subjects, that bring fruit-eating birds.

'von Gogh' garden creepers

The butter-yellow flowers are the canary creeper (Senecio tamoides) are a must for any wall or needing to be cheered up. This creeper flowers like madness.

Creating a 'von Gogh' garden with yellow flowers

The African potato species (Hypoxis) will do well in a veld garden design or yellow palette garden. The Rattle pod (Crotalaria eremicola) and the wild cineraria (Cineraria saxifraga) also make for wonderful bright garden additions.

Indigenous: Felicia amelloides, the blue marguerite or blue daisy.

Landscaping with blue

Statistically, blue is the most popular colour in South Africa gardens. Conveying trust, dependability and calm. Blue is a pure colour that commonly occurs around us in the sea and the sky. In landscaping blue flowering plants have a very soothing effect in a garden.

Blue also happens to be the other favourite colour of bees. Planting loads of blue and yellow indigenous flowers close together in an English cottage garden style will attract bees.

Just like its complimentary colour, orange, there are no blue flowering trees in South Africa. A small tree or blue flowering shrub would be the Kool-aid bush (Psoralea pinnata).

For a blue palette garden, the pale blue flowers of the Cat's whiskers (Clerodendrum myricoides) make this shrub well suited.

What would a blue palette garden be without the Blue plumbago, this diverse plant can act as a creeper or a scrambling shrub. Its easy-going nature makes it a commonly utilised garden plant in South Africa.

The Pajama bush (Lobostemon fruticosus) and the Carpet flower (Aptosimum procumbens) and blue Aggies contribute nicely to a blue palette garden.
Green glory: The maidenhair fern - Adiantum capillus veneris

Green in the garden

A green palette garden brings large, leafy foliage to mind, and commonly referred to as a "tropical garden", "shade garden" (with dark leafy foliage) or in South Africa a "Durban garden". A green palette garden is well suited to shady areas or tropical areas within South Africa.

Large leafy plants provide shade and shelter for birds and insects. Indigenous palm trees are the source of nest materials to weaver birds and house palm-tail swift. In Kwazulu-Natal, palms provide food for the palm-nut vulture. Large evergreen trees also offer roosting spots for local fruit-eating bats.

Trees for a Durban garden
A green "Durban Garden" is a great opportunity to use local palm trees and create a jungle-effect. The Ilala palm (Hyphaene coriacea) and Large-leaved Dragon tree (Draceana aletriformis) are well suited.

Ferns for a green palette garden
The maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), toothed Fern (Christella dentate) and Knysna fern (Rumohra adiantiformis) are all indigenous fern species with beautiful leaves and would well-suited to a "Durban Garden" design.

The common forest grape (Rhoicissus tomentosa) Vigorous, evergreen tendril climber with large, ornamental, vine-like leaves.

Flowers for a green palette garden
The pineapple lily (Eucomis autumnalis) is a green flowering plant with flowers that resemble a pineapple.

​Lilac in South Africa: Indigenous Osteospermum thrives in an sunny landscape.

Purple-flowering plants in landscaping

Rich and royal, or magical and mythical. The colour purple is a symbol of royalty in western culture. It is also the colour of magic and mystery. It combines the calming effect of blue with the passion of red into landscape design. A purple palette garden is a personal preference.

Naturescaping with purple

Purple, in nature, is very similar to blue. Carpenter bees are attracted to the purple flowering of the September bush (Polygala myrtifolia).

Purple flowering trees
In South Africa, especially, Pretoria the jacaranda is an iconic tree. The tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) makes for a fantastic indigenous alternative.

Shrubs with purple flowers
The lilac flowers of the cork bush (Mundulea sericea) make it botanical purple.

The soft purple flowers of the wild cow pea (Vigna unguciculata) makes it a lovely climber of a purple garden.

If you're mad about mauve Wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) , purple plectranthus species and the trailing mauve daisy (Dimorphotheca jucunda) make for a perfect purple planting list.
Pink hibiscus

The colour pink in the landscape 

Pink, like purple, is also a preference for clients and landscapers. In colour psychology pink is associated with youth, fun and delicate romance. A Popular colour when it comes to flowering trees, because of the Japanese Cherry Blossoms. Very calming and stable colour in landscaping

Naturescaping with pink
In nature many pink flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. The indigenous protea's are a favourite among the sugarbirds in the Cape.

Trees that have us tickled pink
The soft pink flowers of the Cape chestnut (Calodendrum capense) are a must have. For more large trees that have us tickled pink click here.

Indigenous pink flowering shrubs
Cape Town's Protea species rules this pink space.

Pink flowering creepers
The Port St John's creeper (Pandorea ricasoliana) will grace trellises, fences and wall of any pink palette garden.

Flowers for a pink palette garden
There are plenty of pink flowering plants. For a comprehensive pink palette planting list, click here.
The arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) should be including in a moon garden planting list.

White flowering plants for landscapes

A white palette garden is referred to as moon garden by landscapers. This type of garden comes alive at night with the white flower being illuminated by the celestial sky and the surrounding darkness. A great addition would be white fish in clear ponds and everyone favourite, fairy lights. A moon garden is ideal for restaurants and late night time corporations.

Naturescaping and moon gardens
True to form, a moon garden will typically attract nectar-feeding bats and moths that are active at night. Generally, these nocturnal flowers are more scented at night.

White flowering trees
Insomniacs can appreciate the large and prolific white flowers of the Common rothmannia (Rothmannia capensis) and the White pear (Apodytes dimidiata).

Shrubs for a moon garden.
The Natal bauhinia (Bauhinia natalensis) and Forest bell bush (Mackaya bella) add a ludic charm to a moon garden.

White flowering climbers
The phallic flowers of the indigenous bushman's pipe (Ceropegia ampliata) makes for great moon garden addition.

Flowers for a moon garden
The arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and white agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox) should be including in a moon garden planting list.

Great thanks to Life Landscapes for their article. 

To make contact with Life Landscapes please refer to their SALI member Page: Click here.

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