| B. Rosie Lerner
The Color Purple
Purple is all the rage among gardeners and Mother Nature's palette is
well endowed with shades of purple flowers, fruit and foliage.
Looking for perennials with purple flowers? Consider bear's britches
(Acanthus), Agapanthus, ornamental onion (Allium),
columbine (Aquilegia), Aster, Astilbe, Baptisia,
swan river daisy (Brachycome), Siberian bugloss (Brunnera),
bellflower (Campanula), Delphinium, foxglove (Digitalis),
coneflower (Echinacea), joepye weed (Eupatorium), Hosta,
Iris, lavender, Liatris, flax (Linum), purple toadflax
(Linaria), bluebells (Mertensia), catmint (Nepeta), Russian
sage (Perovskia), Jacob's ladder (Polemonium), lungwort
(Pulmonaria), Salvia, Stoke's Aster (Stokesia), meadow
rue (Thalictrum), thyme and Veronica.
There are only a small handful of hardy shrubs with purple or blue flowers,
including beautyberry (Callicarpa), bluebeard (Caryopteris),
smokebush (Cotinus), rose-of-sharon (Hibiscus), Rhododendron
and lilac. Those with purple fruit include chokeberry (Aronia),
beautyberry (Callicarpa), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
and arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).
Although green foliage provides a great backdrop for flowers and fruit,
a little purple foliage can perk up your garden design. Plants sporting
purple leaves look showy throughout the growing season, even when nothing
is in bloom. When you consider that most flowering shrubs and perennials
are only in flower for a few weeks, colorful foliage can provide a more
consistent contrast to green foliage.
Perennials and ground covers with selected cultivars of purple foliage
include bugleweed (Ajuga), Canna, black snakeroot (Cimicifuga),
joe pye weed (Eupatorium), alumroot (Heuchera) and Penstemmon
'Husker Red.' Shrubs or small trees that feature at least some cultivars
with purple foliage include smokebush (Cotinus), Japanese maple,
Elderberry (Sambucus) and Weigela.