One of the challenges and also the greatest satisfactions in gardening may be in creating pleasing plant combinations which together have a greater impact than the individual plants. We’ve covered color theory in a previous post, but I have one more concept to offer. This is a concept that can be used in any type of color scheme to increase the odds of success. The concept is simple but practically foolproof. When you are seeking a perfect partner for a plant, look for a different plant which matches or “echoes” the dominant color on the first plant. The most obvious match will be flower to flower. Make sure that the size and/or shape of the flowers are very different. In this example, you can see that the asiatic lilies, Papaver orientale ‘Pizzacato’ and Helianthemum ‘Dazzler’ all have brilliant scarlet blooms, but the shapes and sizes of the flowers are varied, providing plenty of interest. Possibly the second most obvious color echo would be flower to foliage. The foliage can belong to another blooming plant, grass, foliage plant, shrub, or tree. In this serendipitous pairing, the petals of Rosa ‘Golden Celebration’ pick up the amber autumn of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum leaves. Foliage to foliage is still a color echo. Foliage comes in an astounding array of colors and variegations. For an unusual combination, check out the mahogany winter foliage of Rhododendron ‘Thunder’ with Geranium ‘Expresso’ and Heuchera ‘Mocha Mint.’ (Anyone else have a sudden urge to visit Starbucks?) Another possible echo would be flower (or foliage) to stem. This is a little more subtle; the burgundy stems of Sedum ‘Matrona’ pick up the tones of the shaggy Acer palmatum ‘Ever Red’ foliage. The tight pincushion blooms of scarlet Knautia macedonica echo the red stems of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Rainbow’. Don’t forget echoes of petal to stamen; in this simple but effective combo the yellow stamens of the Aster fritarkii ‘Wonder of Staffa’ echo the golden petals of crocosmia ‘Gerbe d’Or’. I’m sure your mind is racing with possible pairings. Don’t hesitate to pick a bloom and wander about your garden looking for color echoes. Perennials are easy to move!