Why not Purple* leaves?


I think most thoughtful gardeners can easily see the point of excluding the visually disruptive and overbearing gold and variegated leaves from their gardens.

Purple foliage, on the other hand, can, undeniably, look wonderful – and harmonise – with green or silver foliage or as background to red flowers. (as in the very famous “red” border at Hidcote).

Gardens featuring those foliage combinations can look both elegant and sophisticated. But – and it’s a very big but – although these gardens may gain in smartness, they inevitably sacrifice,it seems to me, the rapt quality of a great green leaf garden.

Purple leaved plants are abnormalities, so their long-term survival requires selection , propagation and maintainance by man.

Consequently, any planting featuring purple leaves is very emphatically set apart from natural plant communities.The magic of woods and meadows is lost. For me - and my "alternative" gardening - the price is too high.

However, I see no difficulty about growing plants which display coloured foliage ( often purple or bronze ) early in the season, provided, of course, the leaves turn to green by summer. This is a normal facet of seasonal change and so to be welcomed.


* “Purple” is common horticultural usage for foliage hues that include dark reds, brown shades and plum. The dictionary tells us that the colour purple lies between red and blue. However when applied to foliage, blue is largely absent.


Copyright 2010-2013 Graham Cousins