Roses and lavender are a classic couple, complementing one another in color, fragrance, and form. Low-growing, shrubby, and easily shaped, lavender is often used as a hedge around rose gardens (as shown here) or planted as an accent throughout the rose bed. Either way, its thick foliage serves to hide sparse or leggy rose canes, while its upright flowers point toward the rose blooms. Flower color in lavender cultivars ranges from light pink through indigo, making it possible to find a good match for any color rose. And roses and lavender both have been valued throughout history for their lovely scents. Together, they make an amazing fragrance garden.
Roses and lavender don’t always agree quite so completely, however, on growing conditions. Lavender requires drier and poorer soil than do roses, so it can be something of a challenge to keep both growing successfully. Jim Becker provides the details for growing lavender well in this issue, beginning on page 26; here are some other classic lavender companions that share similar needs.
LAVENDER MATCH MAKING:
Best Matches for Care
Plants for arid sites will grow happily in beds prepared for lavender.
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Echinops ritro (globe thistle]
Mirabilis multiflora (four o’clocks)
Best Matches for Color
White, pink, and purple flowers complement lavender; orange creates a bold contrast. Consider… giant allium (Allium giganteum) annual phlox (Phlox drummondii) bearded iris (Iris germanica) pinks (Dianthus spp.) peonies (Paeonia spp)
Best Matches for Fragrance
Lavender pairs well with other herbs, and looks good planted within the herb garden or as its border. Good herbs to try are …
creeping and wooly thymes
Lavender, roses, and campanula are a classic high-summer combination, both for their shared cultural needs and their soothing color harmony.
Planning a garden party for late June? Then take advantage of some other classic combinations. They’ve become standards for good reasons with their beauty, sturdiness, and their ability to play a role in your garden all summer long.
THE CLASSIC CLASSICS
Iris sibirica and Alchemilla mollis
Sun to part shade; average to moist soils. Deep sapphire blue flowers on strong stems rise above the clean green foliage of Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’. Complement it with the cool lime-green of Alchemilla mollis in flower and you have a combination that works in the garden and in the flower vase. Once the flowers are past the foliage will look good right through the summer.
Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ or A. ‘Anthea’ and Salvia ‘May Night’
Full sun; average to dry soil.
Lacy silver foliage sets off the flat lemon-yellow heads of these yarrow. Balance them with the fragrant lavender blue spikes of the hardy European sage ‘May Night’ for a long season combination in full sun and average to dry conditions. Cut the stems for drying and save a summer memory.
THE ALL SUMMER STARS
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ and Allium sphaerocephalum
Full sun; well drained, average soil.
Little wine-red globes of the drumstick allium seem to float above the fragrant gray and blue clouds of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ in late June into July. Cut the nepeta back for a repeat performance and dry the alliums to include in seasonal bouquets.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Thalictrum flavum ssp. Glaucum
Sun to part shade; average soil.
With flowers like a midsummer sky, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ brings blue into the sunny to part shade garden for months. Pair it in early summer with the tall airy foliage of the meadow rue, Thalictrum flavum ssp. glaucum. You’ll get a froth of tiny pale yellow blooms dancing on strong stems for weeks.
The varied shades of purple found in the sage, iris, allium, lavender, and fennel form a great color match with the chartreuse of the early foliage.
THE BRILLIANT MOMENT
Crambe cordifolia and Delphinium ‘Black Knight’
Full sun; rich, well-drained soil.
Yes, they’re the prima donnas of the garden, but for sheer drama nothing beats the majesty of Delphinium ‘Black Knight’ and others in the Pacific Coast range. Add some airy clouds of Crambe cordifolia, which will also hide the staking that is de riguertor the delphiniums, and you have a summer sensation.