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How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 5, 2018

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens

Burgundy is a color that’s both potent and sophisticated. It’s a good one to have in your garden design tool kit. From garnet to merlot, maroon to mahogany, these dark, purple-red hues can take your garden to a whole new level. Read on for some creative ways to put burgundy flowers and foliage to work in your yard and garden.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
A shrubby Cornus with ornamental grasses, Bergenia and birches – in Adrian Bloom’s Foggy Bottom Garden in Norfolk, UK.

Create Accents and Focal Points

In a landscape that’s dominated by shades of green, burgundy is an unexpected color that always attracts the eye. It’s also a solemn hue with a refined manner. Together, these characteristics give burgundy a gravitas that can be put to great use in a garden.

Burgundy flowers and foliage are difficult to ignore, so it takes no effort to make them focal points. Weaving splashes of these darker tones through a garden will establish a sense of rhythm and guide the eye from one area to the next.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Another photo from Foggy Bottom. Dark-leaved heuchera with blue fescue, rudbeckia, asters, eupatorium and miscanthus.

Add Depth and Layers

Like other dark colors, burgundy flowers and foliage tend to recede, while brighter colors come forward. This means you can use these dark tones to add depth and mystery, and make small spaces seem larger. Burgundy foliage reads like a shadow and accentuates the shape and volume of neighboring plants.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Berberis ‘Concorde’ (a non-invasive variety) with Heuchera ‘Marmalade’. This photo and the ones that follow are from my own garden.

Cultivate a Range of Moods

The hushed tones of burgundy have a calming effect and add a feeling of serenity to a garden. Yet moody, purple-red hues can also create drama and excitement. Pairing burgundy with gold or lime, makes these bright colors look even more vibrant. Conversely, the sophisticated base notes of black currant and plum, make pale blue, pink, grey and creamy yellow look even softer.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Purple fountain grass, coleus and Alternathera ‘Purple Prince’, Helichrysum ‘Gold’ and a fancy-leaved geranium.

Leverage the Light

Don’t hide burgundy flowers in the shadows. Dark-colored foliage absorbs the light and can be difficult to see in the shade. A sunny spot is usually more effective. You’ll also find that in most cases, sunlight intensifies deep pigments, so most plants are at their darkest when grown in full sun. Glossy petals or shiny leaves also take on a silvery sheen in the sun, which adds yet another layer of visual interest.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Spirea ‘Goldflame’ and Berberis ‘Concorde’

Create Color Echoes

Burgundy flowers and foliage can be used to compose exquisite vignettes that are as pleasing as any work of art. Connecting two plants with a common hue creates a “color echo” that highlights each partner’s special beauty and also delivers a new and satisfying color harmony.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Hellebore and Epimedium versicolor

There’s no end of pairing possibilities. Combining tulips ‘Ronaldo’ with ‘Princess Irene’ brings out the latter’s plum-colored flares. The wine-red brushstrokes on Asiatic Lily ‘Patricia’s Pride’ look even more dramatic when they’re blooming beside a dark-leaved Heuchera.

One of the best places to play with color echoes is in pots and planters. Some of the many candidates for container planting include the velvety coleus ‘Dark Star’, pearl millet ‘Purple Majesty’, Alternathera ‘Red Threads’ and elephant ears ‘Diamond Head’.

For a list of sixty plants with burgundy flowers and foliage, scroll to the bottom of this article: How to Use Burgundy in Your Flower Garden.

To learn more about using color, read:  How to Use Orange in Your Flower Garden,  How to Use Pink in Your Flower Garden and 6 Tips for a More Colorful Flower Garden.

How to Use Burgundy Flowers and Foliage - Longfield Gardens
Dahlia ‘Rip City’

Topics: Color Trends Foliage Plants Garden Design How-To Inspiration

Kathleen LaLiberte has been writing about gardening for more than 30 years from her home in northern Vermont, where she tends a half acre of flowers, vegetables and fruit. She has been working with Longfield Gardens since 2011.

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