Purple patch: Balance a late-summer garden with a splash of burgundy

Emma Townshend hears the one about the Bishop and the 'Actaea'

The Bishop of Llandaff has got himself something of a reputation lately. Frankly, he puts it about a bit. And everybody loves the Bishop. In the late summer afternoon during the last week of August and first of September, flame colours dominate the garden, and the Bishop's episcopal red flower booms out.

But the Bishop is not just loved for his flowers: dark purple-bronze foliage also does its bit to make the ladies fawn over this glamorously gaudy dahlia, top-rated since it was first bred in the 1920s. Its wine-coloured leaves balance out the bright colours of the late-summer garden beautifully. Somehow that deep burgundy shadow gives hot exotic oranges and limes a fantastic backdrop to show off against.

There are other purple-toned plants that do similarly good work. Sedums are fantastic early autumn plants, and "Purple Emperor" adds a rich red seaweedy colour as a foil to raspberry-coloured flowers. Sedums are delightfully unfussy to grow and will manage well without too much feeding and watering – in fact, they're more likely to do a spectacular belly flop if you do too much. Crocus offers a substantial plant for £6.99 (crocus.co.uk).

Another elegant purple-leafed beauty is Actaea simplex, which comes with the oh-so-tempting common name "Bugbane". Ignore that nomenclature, and you are buying a racy centre-of-attention for late autumn, with almost-black foliage below tall, white-starred flower stems. Actaea will even, usefully, tolerate damp shade.

There are acres of wine-coloured daylilies for gardeners to sort through, but RHS Wisley has done the job for us and selected in particular "Little Grapette", with dark burgundy flowers and orange detailing. The Duchy of Cornwall nursery has it for £.5.50 (duchyofcornwallnursery.co.uk). Lower down in height, there is oregano "Rosenkuppel", a purple confection that grows to a foot or so.

One of the tallest of the burgundys is the dark Korean Angelica, Angelica gigas (£6.99, crocus.co.uk). This is a wine-dark bee-haven, a 9ft stunner with turreted cow-parsley looks, reimagined in pinot noir colours. Gigas does best in really fertile soil with a bit of care and attention – it's worth it, to produce those towering flower stems the second year in your care.

Finally, there are those old favourites, burgundy-leaved canna lilies. I have a soft spot for cannas because I find them just so unbelievably easy to grow. Some have now even seeded themselves in my garden, which I find startling, because their seeds are bullet-like. Canna purpurea is the dark-leaved variety, and some good-named plants include "Russian Red" – £6.50 from British specialists Hart Cannas (hart canna.co.uk). To see them in person, why not drop into Hart Cannas' open day, in Farnborough, Hampshire, today and tomorrow. Admission is £3 – and includes a free cream tea.

Bargains and Bishops

Racy number

Actaea simplex Atropurpurea: a long-winded name for a simply stunning plant. This bargain Bugbane is on offer for £7.99, and just about to begin flowering for autumn. crocus.co.uk

Easy living

Even if you've never grown a Bishop of Llandaff dahlia, it's as easy to get growing as it is sophisticated in looks (£7.50, burncoose.co.uk). Or if the Bishop gets around too much for your liking, how about the "Dark Desire"? £4.50, westcountrylupins.co.uk

High hopes

If you like Angelica gigas, try Peucedanum verticillare. It has the same stunning height and good looks, pinky-purple stems, and lime-green flowers. £6.99 for a two-litre plant, crocus.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions