Temporary Tropic Tempo
Incorporate both annuals and bulbs for a nearly instant blast of pizazz to your beds. Bright annuals like coleus fill in quickly like a technicolor red carpet while architectural crinums and cannas erupt from the ground like modern sculptures.
RepeatGet clever when using color. This photo is actually from Disney but it illustrates my point perfectly. Pair plants with similar colors like these caladiums and New Guinea impatiens for a colorful and classy one-two punch! I just love how both the black and pink are mirrored in the spots and blush of the caladiums.
Complementary ColorsRed and green aren't just for Christmas anymore. You might remember your art teacher teaching you about how complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) make each other appear to be even more vivid than they normally would. This caladium and bird's nest fern combo works especially well since the green is found both in the ferns and on the margins of the caladiums.
Give Color Some HeightBring the color to eye level. There is no excuse for a temperate or tropical gardener to not plant gingers, especially these deliciously scented Hedychiums. They can be grown like bulbs and overwintered indoors, so like I said... no excuse. After all, who could resist a close up gander (and whiff) of these tall and gorgeous ginger headed beauties?
Floor to Ceiling ColorUse root hardy vines like this passionflower to for fast tropical color. Many of the most tropical looking vines at the nursery (again, like this passionflower) only look like they'd perish after a frosty winter and will actually return from the roots in subsequent years. Don't be afraid to prune mercilessly though!
Everything in ModerationIt's okay to use every color in the rainbow, as long as it's not in equal parts. For example, this idea garden at Leu Botanical Gardens might combine purple with yellow, pink, orange, red and green, but the dark and heavy purple is in balance with the the lighter and brighter colors. The Persian shield is incorporated as carefully as it would be in a vivid expressionist painting.
Plant Some PurpleWhen in doubt, plant some purple. Plants with vivid purple flowers and foliage look undoubtedly tropical, work well with green and create the illusion of receding into space. As the second and third photos demonstrate, purple is also a great choice for a dramatic edging as it clearly delineates between the lawn and garden.
Pop in Some BromeliadsBromeliads are totally underutilized in gardens. They're just as easy as temporary plantings as annuals or bulbs, but they look great in your home all through winter too! Just submerge the bromeliad's container or rootball in the soil and cover the lip of the container with mulch. Be sure to choose a shady spot for your bromeliads so that they don't get sunburned during the move!