If you have a large garden with plenty of space this purple leaf shrub and yellow flowered perennial make a handsome statement at the back of the border. This combination is also effective naturalized or as part of a meadow garden where the simple flowers of cutleaf coneflower can be best appreciated against the dark foliage of ninebark. Ninebark puts on a show of its own in spring when it produces large clusters of pinkish white flowers. The attractive purple foliage continues into mid-summer when cutleaf coneflower comes into bloom and provides color lasting for several weeks. When fall comes and the leaves of ninebark fall, the beautiful exfoliating stems are revealed to add interest to the winter garden. Both plants grow well in full to part sun, average, medium moist, well-drained soil.
Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) Native to most of continental United States, cutleaf coneflower can grow up to nine feet tall in the wild but usually stays under four feet in cultivation. The flower heads are 3.5” across and consist of drooping yellow ray flowers around a green domed central disc. The cultivar ‘Golden Glow’ has double flowers and would also be attractive in the combination as would other yellow flowered Rudbeckia such as R. fulgida, black-eyed Susan, which is shorter but has a longer bloom time.
Bloom Time: Mid- to late summer
Size: 2-9’ H x 1.5-3’ W
Hardiness: Zones 3-9
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) ‘Diablo’
This vigorous deciduous shrub is upright, spreading, and has attractive purple foliage. In the warmer parts of its range, the color may fade in the heat of summer but new growth the following spring will be purple. The flowerheads are flat toped and are made up of many small flowers that give way to reddish seed capsules after blooming. Plants may be cut back in winter to rejuvenate.
Bloom Time: Spring
Size: 4-8’ H x 4-8’ W
Hardiness: Zones 3-7