COLOURS AND COLOUR SCHEMES

Too often, that mystical and frequently undelinable thing called ‘good taste’ in colour selection is nothing more than one person’s opinion or particular liking. There are, for instance, colour schemes that clash in one setting, but produce the required effect in another. For example, a teenager’s room may be decorated with the most bizarre range of colours that look perfect to its occupant, but would produce nightmares for other members of the family. Similarly, the selection of plants for a particular room is a personal thing.

Strict rules about colour schemes either confuse or inhibit the full use of a person’s imagination and natural ten-dancy to experiment. However, if you should wish to create a particular atmosphere in a room, certain colour schemes can be employed. For example. a room with white walls looks clinical, and needs furniture, ornaments and plants to add a lived in feeling. Whereas a room decorated with delicately flowered wallpaper has a warm atmosphere, with or without the furniture and plants. The type of plant and its effect on a room should be considered with care and although it is a matter of personal taste. the following list will give some ideas.

FLOWERING PLANTS:

Orange and yellow flowers

Begonia x tuberhybrida ‘Guardsman’: This tuberous-rooted begonia produces large flowers of a deep orange, often 7.5-15cm (3-6in) across. It looks good cascading from a stand or shelf.

Chrysanthemum: There are many varieties with orange or yellow flowers. and all are excellent as centrepieces. They last a long time in flower, especially during the winter.

Citrus microcarpa (syn. C. mitis): For a spectacular display of miniature orange fruits (the flowers are white) this plant has few equals. It does like a humid atmosphere, and should be placed where it can be conveniently misted.

Thunbergia alata: Known as black-eyed Susan, the funnel-like orange and yellow flowers are produced in profusion during the summer.

Red and pink flowers

Cyclamen: These traditionally winter-flowering plants can be obtained in many different colours, including red and pink, and look good as centrepieces for tables in cool rooms.

Impatiens: The busy Lizzie needs little introduction, and lasts in flower for many months. Mature plants tend to lose their lower leaves, so try to place them on a low table where this is not quite so obvious.

Senecio cruentus (cinerarias): These glorious plants produce many heads. bursting with bloom, and can be viewed from all sides. It is best to look down on them slightly, so do not place them on high shelves. They also need plenty of water and therefore must be accessible.

Sinningia: This is the gloxinia, a regular favourite with plant lovers. There are many cultivars. and the blooms appear in summer and autumn. Again. it is nice to look down on the blooms and the buds, which are attractive as they open.

Blue flowers

Campanula: C. isopluilla and C. fragilis are trailing plants, ideal for cascading from a shelf or hanging-basket.

Ipomoea tricolor: This delightful plant, also called Ipomoea ntbrocaerulea, produces many mauvish-blue flowers. It is a climber, and particularly effective when grown on a trellis and used as a room divider.

Purple flowers

Saintpaulia ionantha: These well known plants are able to live in small pots. relative to the size of the foliage, and produce a good array of flowers. Dome-shaped plants are formed, and these are ideal for table-top decorations.

Streptocarpus: The Cape primrose, as it is known, produces large flowers in autumn or spring, making a good centrepiece for a table. Various shades. mainly purples and blues

Cream flowers

Senecio cruentus: See previous entry.

Chrysanthemum: See previous entry.

White flowers

Stephanotis floribunda: This distinctive trailing and climbing plant is a superb addition to any home, with wax-like sweetly-scented flowers. It is ideal for a corner of a room, where it will produce a ‘face’ side.

FOLIAGE PLANTS:

Orange or yellow foliage

Codiaeum variegatum pictum ‘Disraeli’: This enchanting croton has yellow patches on the top surfaces of the leaves. Its base may become rather bare, and it is best to stand the plant on the floor so that the lack of leaves is not readily noticeable and the colours of the leaves can be seen to greater advantage.

Coleus: These well-known foliage plants have a wonderful range of coloured leaves, often with patches of orange or yellow.

Dieflenbachia ‘Exotica’: This has pale yellow markings. If there are children or animals in the house, avoid this plant as the sap is poisonous.

Red or pink foliage

Begonia rex: These popular foliage plants have a range of colours, including pink and crimson.

Cordyline terminalis ‘Firebrand’: This cabbage palm has highly decorative leaves edged with brilliant red. It is a stately plant, well suited to a low table.

Purple foliage

Gynura aurantiaca: This climbing and trailing plant has eye-catching leaves covered with bright purple hairs. The yellow flowers are best cut off as they have an unpleasant smell. It is ideal for a corner of a room.

Iresine herbstii: This plant needs to be in good sunlight for it to maintain the shiny, heart-shaped purple leaves at their best.

Brown or bronze foliage Begonia rex: See previous entry. Coleus: See previous entry.

There are, of course, many other plants with distinctive and coloured foliage.

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