During early summer, I bought a gorgeous purple daylily. To be more precise, it is red violet in color. It did not have a label, and I have no idea what species it is. Because it was a purer purple than most purple daylilies, I was immediately attracted to it, and I loved the way it looked in my garden–especially next to the yellow and hot pink flowers.
A Purple Primer
Most purple daylilies are a bit brown. To understand this, it is helpful to know a bit about the color wheel and color theory.
Complementary colors are any two colors on the color wheel that are directly across from each other [like yellow and purple]. As long as complementary colors remain near each other [like the daylilies and the brown-eyed Susans in the above photo], they compliment each other. [I love that play on words.] Yet, when 2 complements mix, the result becomes brownish. In my mind, that is not desirable–it is not complimentary.
I am guessing about this, but because they are so very plentiful, the yellow and orange daylilies are probably the original, true daylilies. Again, I am guessing, but the purples and bright reds are probably hybrids or mixes that came along later. In looking at the results of most purple daylilies [which are too brown for me], it seems that too much of the original yellow was allowed to combine with the purple additives. My 2015 purple daylily seems to be an exception to that problem. Again, it seems to be truly purple–indeed, a red-violet purple, but not a brown.
After I bought the above daylily, I began to notice purples in other plants at the nursery; and since then, I have purchased several other plants that have something purplish about them.
Elderberry Black Lace
A few weeks later, I noticed a large Black Lace Elderberry plant, someting that I had never noted before then. Its foliage is dark purple, and its blooms are a lighter, pinkish purple.
The week before I bought the Black Elderberry, I had bought 3 Hinoki Cypresses, which have a bright yellow green coloring, as contrasted with the darker greens of most evergreens. Again, because yellow and purple are complements, I placed the Black Lace Elderberry near the Hinoki Cypresses. It was beautiful there.
In August, I added a Fireball Hardy Hibiscus and a Kopper King. Notice how the purple leaves of the hardy hibiscus is complemented by the yellow green Hinokii Cypress.
In both August and September, I bought Palace Purple Heucheras
In mid-September, I bought some beautifully filled fall garden planters [above]. They have Palace Purple Heuchera, Purple Fountain Grass, and Purple Ornamental Cabbage.
In July, I added several pinkish purple Pow Wow Wild Berry Coneflowers. The flowers of this species are a bright pinkish purple, a less brown flower than the older, originial purple coneflowers [echinaceas].
I have always bought a lot of plants with blue-violet flowers [i.e. Russian Sage, Salvia, Asters, Hydrangeas, etc.,], but this is the first year that I have ventured further and added the red violets. In doing so, I have opened an entirely new range of plants. It is exciting to step out of the rut.
P.S. Because blue and orange are across from each other on the color wheel, they are another complementary pair. That is why bluish violet asters work well with the mums and orange coneflowers.