Dare to be different

A monochromatic colour scheme can be elegant and effective.

In the two previous parts of this series we chatted about complementary and harmonious colour schemes. Now we turn our attention to the monochromatic colour schemes, which is a challenge of a different kind.

A monochromatic colour scheme is one where a single colour, often white, is paired with green in a planting scheme. Of course, the term ‘monochromatic’ is misleading as green is always present as a second colour.

All Green

variegated and monochromatic

An all-green garden (which really is monochromatic!) can be many things – understated, charming, elegant – the perfect backdrop for modern or classical ornamentation.

Plants that spring to mind for a plain green, sub-tropical garden are the delicious monster (Monstera Deliciosa), Philodendron Selloum or its smaller cousin, Philodendron ‘Xanadu’, mondo grass (Ophiopogon Japonicus), tall mondo grass (Ophiopogon Jaburan), Liriope Muscari and indigenous grasses such as Aristida Junciformis and Setaria Megaphylla. Some of these will produce a dainty white flower or inflorescence that you could remove if you didn’t like them.

Variegated Foliage

A variegated plant palette falls into one of two categories: white-and-green variegation, or yellow-and-green variegation. The two can be mixed quite happily, although the white-and-green variegation creates a far more elegant effect, whereas the yellow-and-green variegation adds an element of playfulness to the garden.

Suggest Variegated White and Green Plants


Plectranthus Madagascariensis
Pilea Cadierei
Chlorophytum Comosum (Hen and Chicken – the white and green varieties)
Dianella Tasmanica (the white and green varieties)
Mentha Suaveolens ‘Variegata’ – variegated pineapple mint
Bromeliads in white and green
Hostas for cold climates
Coprosma Repens ‘Marble chips’ (the white and green varieties)

Suggest Variegated Yellow and Green Plants

Chlorophytum Comosum (Hen and Chicken – the yellow and green varieties)
Pleomele Reflexa (previously Dracaena Reflexa)
Hostas for cold climates
Dianella Tasmanica
Chlorophytum Saundersiae ‘Starlight’
Coprosma Repens ‘Taupata Gold’
Phormium Tenax (New Zealand flax)

Try Something New

White and green gardens are known for their timeless beauty and can often be seen in South African gardens.

On my visits to England, however, I was delighted to see gardeners being adventurous with their colour schemes, often creating a section or ‘room’ of only red and green, or purple and green, blue and green, or orange and green. These colour schemes are bold, cheerful and lend themselves to modern and unusual accessories.

The Colours of Autumn

Burgundy, bronze, brown, deep orange and apricot – all of these colours evoke a moody, autumn feel in the garden. One finds these colours on the stem of a plant, the underside of a leaf, in the colour of a berry or in an ornamental grass in winter.

These moody colours can be paired with green foliage or highlighted with the addition of white, silver or blue green.