Well, technically it’s not “the colour purple” but rather Pantone Ultra Violet 18-3838, that’s predicted to be the colour of the year – but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue now, does it?

Whilst purple is supposed to suggest the mysteries of the cosmos, intrigue and ingenuity, I am more interested in my garden. What could I do this year to play with this suggested trend by the powers that be at Pantone?

As my garden at home is quite small, I tend to concentrate on growing in pots, although some are so large I struggle to lift them when full of compost! This can limit my choice of plants slightly, but I’m not planning on growing any trees or super-large shrubs. Living in the Suffolk countryside, I can go for a nice walk along the river Stour, or Orwell, and see plenty of beautiful trees whenever I like!

So what Purple plants can I grow in pots this year? I’d like to grow some edible things too, not just the pretty bits and pieces, but who says I can’t have both?

The Flowers

The first plant that caught my eye while I was working through the new spring catalogue was the Isotoma ‘Fizz ‘n’ Pop’, these are going to look spectacular in pots against a fence or just in front of some of the larger evergreens I have growing. If I also grow another variety called ‘Indigo Stars’ with them, I’ll get a good range of purples in one area.

Another variety that definitely appealed to me was the Ostespermum “3D” varieties, one is called ‘Violet Ice” and another simply ‘Purple’  there is also a ‘Yellow’ and ‘Lemon Ice’, which would mix in nicely with the other two to make a vibrant display. If I chose a large pot, say about 2 feet in diameter, I could grow them all together and they’ll spill over the edges to make it look like a tall “mound” of flowers – If I feed them well to start with of course!

A couple of shrubs that I can grow in pots are Buddleja “Buzz” and some Hydrangeas. Of the “Buzz”, there are three varieties I can choose from to keep the theme going; they are ‘Indigo’, ‘Magenta’ and ‘Velvet’. All three are just about within the purple spectrum and have the added bonus of attracting lots of bees and butterflies to my outdoor space, which I love to see too!  I’ve grown ‘Buzz’ in pots before and they do well, the trick is feed and water, especially early in the season when the plants are stretching and getting themselves going again – a bit like us having a hearty breakfast to start the day really!

The other shrub that I have my eye on is the Hydrangea ‘Double Dutch Alkmaar’ –  – the double flowers and the blue/ violet colouring really appeal to me – it’s going to need another colour with it to bring it out I feel, but that’s an excuse to try something completely different like sunflowers or even the new ‘‘SunBelievable(TM)’ variety!

So now I’ve feasted my eyes on some beautiful purple plants, I probably ought to look at growing some tasty purple veg!

The Vegetables

First on my list is purple carrots!  This is the way they were first grown many, many years ago and we only have orange carrots through fashionable breeding and also because they were grown in Holland in honour of William of Orange!  – So ‘Purple Sun’ are going in my basket.

Next will be Tomato ‘Indigo Cherry Drops’ – a variety I can grow in a pot against the sunny fence where they will ripen nicely. They get a purple “blush” on the unripe fruit when they first start to grow, this deepens and the green turns to red, but keeps the purple too!

I can probably try and grow some aubergines too, against the same fence as the tomatoes. I can always rig up a glass or clear plastic frame if I need to help them along later in the year. They’ll look good mixed together and if I grow them in amongst the other semi tropical plants like the banana, tree fern, yucca and colocasia, hopefully the fruits will show up against the other foliage!

I would dearly love to try and grow some brassicas too; there’s purple sprouting broccolipurple cabbage, Kalettes even a Brussels Sprout called ‘Red Bull’, which I’m sure I could use at a stretch? I’ll have to use loads of feed and probably chicken pellets to get them to grow well, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it!

Good old potatoes are easy to grow in pots and I can slot them in pretty much anywhere too. A variety called ‘Salad Blue’ could be interesting, I’ve tried them roasted before and while they definitely taste slightly different to good old Desiree. They were still very nice indeed and I would happily eat them again with my Sunday roast!

Last on my list are sweet potatoes – I absolutely love growing these amazing vegetables, the foliage goes wild and I like the look of it – the same family as morning glory to give you an idea – and I always grow them in the largest pots I have, usually in a warm corner and plenty of water too!

So there’s plenty of purple choice: floral, decorative and edible – I haven’t even started on fruit, or beans and edible flowers!    I’m looking forward to a positively ultra violet year!

Graham Ward

I’ve been gardening for as long as I can remember, my first earliest memory being planting seeds in my Grandfather’s prestige flower bed and having a prize lettuce growing there, which he proudly left to show everyone.

Since then, gaining knowledge and experience from both my Grandfather and my Father, I’ve continued to garden, both as a hobby and later on as a professional gardener and landscaper for 12 years. I love all aspects of it, from the design and build, to the planting out of summer borders with plants you’ve either grown from seed or raised from plugs. Unusual varieties always catch my eye and I’m keen to try growing them, even if sometimes it means learning from my mistakes.

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