The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond

A Penchant for Purple

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Purple globe amaranth.

Royalty. Passion. Mystery. Purple has come to symbolize these meanings and more. Hard to imagine today, but at one time purple was considered somewhat rare, perhaps lending credence to its mystery and elitism.

There are subtexts to the meaning of purple, as various shades and tones signify different things. Light shades are floral and romantic, while their opposite dark shades represent intellect and dignity. And there are negative meanings associated with this color–decadence, conceit, and mourning, to name a few. Purple is the color of the vestments worn by Roman Catholic priests during the Lenten season, symbolizing penance. The deep royal shade in the Mardi Gras trinity of purple, green and gold represents justice.

But I did not consider any of these meanings when choosing plants for my gardens and containers. For me, it comes down to contrast, texture and light. It seems counterintuitive, but a purple plant can help light up a shady spot.


The dainty, lavender blooms of Biokova Karmina “Cranesbill geranium” mingle easily with the strong tones of “May Night” salvia. Scarlet Knock Out roses in the background are beginning their first bloom of the season.

Just the last weekend while visiting a nursery with my sister and admiring the vivid container combinations containing purple flowers, I said that until recently I had never really thought of purple as one of my favorite colors in the garden. My wardrobe was void of that color and there was no sight of it in my house. However, more and more, I’ve grown to love purple (I even wear it now). Be it a punctuation point, pause or prevalent plant, purple makes a statement in several ways in the beds and pots in my garden.

Let’s take a look.

2015 shade garden purple

Heuchera “Plum Pudding” pops out against the bright chartreuse of Hakonechloa “Aureola”

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I love the interplay of the icy green foliage of Russian sage and “Bloodgood” Japanese maple that is one of the anchor plants in one of the patio gardens. The maple changes its tones throughout the season. It will be this maroonish color until fall.

2015 blue spruce

“Dark Towers” penstemon is sandwiched between the cool shade of the “Fat Albert” dwarf Colorado blue spruce and the young leaves of Black-eye Susans.

2015 thyme

Low-growing, groundcover Thymus serpyllum “creeping thyme” displays delicate purple blooms.

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Hot, cold and in between. Purple petunia, Pennisetum setaceum “Rubrum,” sweet potato vine “Emerald Lace” and orange gazania mix it up in a sunny container.

2015 Window box purple

A thriller spiller, Setcreasea pallida “Purple Heart” is a lively component to my window box, which includes creeping jenny, dragonwing begonia and impatiens.


Author: mjarz

Welcome to the Arch City Gardener. My name is Mimi and I started this blog to share my journeys in learning to garden in St. Louis County, Missouri and learn more from my readers who garden. Thanks for reading The Arch City Gardener.

One thought on “A Penchant for Purple

  1. Purple is usually a rich and satisfying color. You have a great selection of purple blooms and foliage.

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