A designer trick for working with pastels is to limit use to just two or three colors. Lavender, lilac, baby pink, baby blue, yellow and lime green evoke an immediate sense of spring, but the combination can also read juvenile, overly sweet or feminine. If you stick with layered shades of celery green and pale pink, the overall effect is understated, fun and sophisticated.
Lilac is often associated with springtime. If you’re looking for a similar vibe but with more of a masculine touch, consider using lavender mixed with green and violet. The softness of the lavender makes it read more like a neutral. When lavender is paired with the royal richness of the violet, their blue undertones spring to life. Adding green to the mix creates a classic springtime touch.
StudioHue designed this contemporary nursery to grow with the child, but for now a sitting area with a comfortable midcentury modern chair and ottoman have been placed in the room for parent and baby's needs. The soft gray color will allow bolder colors to be introduced with furnishings, knickknacks and other decorative touches, such as the yellow accent table and wall stripe and lilac pillow and wall square. Who says every little girl needs to be in the pink?
Candy colors and sherbet pinks, yellows and lilacs get a cooler treatment in this color-packed bedroom from Catherine M. Austin interior design. We love how she transformed a narrow hallway connecting a bedroom and bath with a punchy, sweet hydrangea purple balanced with a selection of well-curated contemporary art. Even the bold white etagere becomes an artsy statement piece when it’s piled with colorful art and design books to create a mini library/gallery space.
If you think you know butterfly bush, think again. ‘Blue Chip Jr.’ has outstanding qualities, including fragrance, continuous blooming without deadheading, non-invasive and drought tolerant. Of course, it also attracts butterflies by the dozens. It grows to a tidy 18 to 30 inches tall and wide—a perfect size for edging a bed or walkway. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Called “summer lilac” in Oregon and Washington, where it is approved for sale.
If pink is your signature color, look for Fairy Magnolia Blush (Michelia x ‘Mic Jur01’). Lilac-pink blossoms cover the plant in spring, peeking out among the lush evergreen leaves. With all Fairy magnolias, plants often rebloom with a lighter flowering in summer. Fragrant blooms provide good forage for bees and other pollinators in spring. The evergreen leaves offer nesting habitat for birds. Use Fairy magnolias as a hedge, specimen plant or tucked into containers. Plants grow 9 to 12 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 7b-11.
Some clematis flowers unfurl to reveal more than one color on each flower petal. Clair de Lune (Clematis ‘EVIrin’) opens white blooms with pale, lilac-tinted shadings along wavy petal edges. Dark purple flower anthers give each blossom a contrasting center. This pretty vine, previously known as ‘Blue Moon,’ is a gold winner of the Chelsea Flower Show in England for its striking 7-inch-wide flowers. Blooms show the best color when grown in part shade. Vines grow 8 to 10 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
‘Imogen,’ another shrub rose from English breeder David Austin, has a button eye, like most so-called Old Roses (a class of roses grown before hybrid teas debuted around 1867). Its lemon-yellow buds open to frilly flowers that gradually become cream-colored. Michael Marriott, an Austin rose expert, recommends growing it with soft blue and lilac perennial flowers. 'Imogen's' scent is a mix of fresh apple and almond with a touch of musk and cloves. Grow it in zones 5 to 9 and expect flowers from early summer till frost.
Shrubs are the ultimate best buy when it comes to filling container gardens. They deliver strong color all season long, even year-round in warmer zones. After spending their first season in a container, you can transition shrubs to a permanent home in a planting bed, where they’ll enhance your landscape for years to come. It’s not hard to design container gardens with a few shrubs in the mix. This galvanized tub features a patriotic theme with red Superbena Scarlet Star verbena, Superbells White calibrachoa and blue-purple dwarf butterfly bush (Lo & Behold ‘Lilac Chip’ Buddleia x), which grows 2 feet tall—an ideal shrub size for a pot. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Introduced in 1998 at the famed Chelsea Flower Show in England, this double clematis steals the spotlight in any planting. Flowers unfurl in shades of lilac, with a lighter ruffed center. The outer, largest petals (botanically they’re called tepals) fade and drop, leaving a petal pompom in the center of blooms. Flowers last up to 4 weeks, filling the summer garden with striking color. For best flowering, remove top growth by one-third in early spring. Vines grow 6 to 8 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Grow on a trellis or fence, in a pot or through a shrub rose. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Some clematis showcase bicolor blooms. One of the most well-known in this category is ‘Nelly Moser.’ This beauty unfurls very big, 7- to 9-inch flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by a second bloom in early fall. Each blossom displays pale lilac petals with a glowing pink bar down the center. Colors tend to fade in full sun, so give ‘Nelly Moser’ a spot with light shade. Flower centers sport shades of deep purple. For best flowering, remove top growth by one-third in early spring. Vines grow 6 to 10 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Grow beside a porch where you can enjoy the bicolor blossoms on a daily basis. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.