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For a retro-style garden with plenty of colour pops and fun textures, look no further. Add as much or as little as you like for a subtle look within luscious green foliage. Or embellish your garden with colourful furniture and containers for a full retro look.

1. Tulipa (tulip) ‘Stresa’

First pick is this compact bulb that has grey-green leaves that bloom butter-yellow flowers with bright red markings. Planted in autumn, these bloom in spring, growing up to 25cm tall. They will look great in beds and borders. However, bear in mind they can be toxic if ingested.

  • Sun – Full sun
  • Position – South, East, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained
  • Soil – Loam, sand, or chalk
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2. Allium sphaerocephalon (round-headed garlic)

Secondly, these rounded heads of flowers have pink and red tones that bloom in summer. A tall perennial that grows to 1 metre in height is a great addition to the back of a border. Alternatively, nestled amongst ornamental grasses will give quite the impact.

  • Sun – Full sun
  • Position – South, North, East, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Loam, sand, clay, or chalk
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3. Cornus sanguinea (dogwood) ‘Midwinter Fire’

Next is a hardy, deciduous shrub that grows to 2 metres tall and they will provide plenty of colour. During spring and summer, the stems are green and are joined by small white flowers, then in autumn the stems turn a vivid orange-red colour.

  • Sun – Full sun or partial shade
  • Position – South, North, East, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Loam, sand, clay, or chalk
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4. Lilium (lily) ‘Forever Susan’

This bulbous perennial has dark, green leaves and deep burgundy flowers that have orange tips. These dramatic colours will add something special to your beds, borders and containers as well as making great cut flowers to bring their joy inside.

  • Sun – Full sun or partial shade
  • Position – South, East, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Loam, sand, or chalk
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5. Blechnum brasiliense (dwarf Brazilian tree fern) ‘Volcano’

Without a doubt this fern will add something special to a retro style garden. With fronds that grow over 60cm in length that are orange-red in when they unfurl and become golden, then green. They are hardy in coastal and mild parts of the UK, so they do appreciate a sheltered spot.

  • Sun – Full sun or partial shade
  • Position – East or North-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Loam
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6. Kniphofia northiae (giant red-hot poker)

An evergreen perennial with strap-shaped leaves that grows to 1.5 metres will be a fantastic addition to your border. In summer, the upright stems are topped with flower florets with red-orange colouring which fades to yellow-green. Once flowered, the old flower stems can be cut back.

  • Sun – Full sun
  • Position – West or South-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand or loam
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7. Ophiopogon planiscapus (mondo grass) [Black Beard]

What better way to contrast with the bright and colourful blooms than with dark and dramatic grass-like leaves. The tufted perennial which is evergreen will provide structure and dramatic colour to your space. A low maintenance plant, they can also be grown in containers.

  • Sun – Full sun or partial shade
  • Position – West, East, or South facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, clay, or loam
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8. Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise)

Bring the retro indoors with the unusual flowers of Strelitzia reginae. With warm temperatures and plenty of sun, the blooms with flourish. Therefore, they grow well in conservatories. Alternatively, they can be planted outside in well-drained soil but be sure to bring them indoors before the frosts as they are only hardy to 10-15˚C.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – West, East, or South-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, chalk, or loam
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9. Echinops ritro (globe thistle) ‘Veitch’s Blue’

The spherical flowerheads of globe-thistle will add some fun texture to the garden in summer and autumn. Not only can you enjoy them, but pollinators love them too, making them a great addition to a wildlife garden.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – South, West, or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained
  • Soil – Chalk, loam, or sand
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10. Imperata cylindrica (cogon grass) ‘Rubra’

Lastly, this deciduous grass is deep-red in colour and will add some depth to your borders with its tufted texture. They are hardy through most of the UK but may need some winter protection in colder areas. In spring, give the plant a tidy up by removing any dead foliage to keep it fresh.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – South, West, or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Clay or loam
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So, with these plants you can have a retro-style garden with pops of colour and fun textures to bring a new dimension to your garden.

To find out how to design a sensory garden, read this:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

sensory garden design
Sensory garden
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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