Everyday Plants Explode with Color in Well-designed Border

Hardy hibiscus, Annabelle hydrangea, black-eyed Susan, roses and Russian sage provide a backdrop for low-growing petunias, marigolds and Missouri evening primrose.

Hardy hibiscus, Annabelle hydrangea, black-eyed Susan, roses and Russian sage provide a backdrop for low-growing petunias, marigolds and Missouri evening primrose.

Gardeners sometimes think they need the latest and greatest cultivars to create dramatic borders when, in fact, everyday plants can serve just as well and often perform more predictably.

A case in point is a front border in my neighborhood. As you’ll see from the photos, the plants are simple, but the results are striking.

First, notice the color combinations. Startling shades of red (scarlet, purple and fuchsia), yellow (lemon and gold) and orange mingle with subtle hues of green.

Next, look at the way the low-growing fuchsia petunias punctuate the front of the border by alternating with Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa), marigolds, and red Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber).

In the middle of the border, you’ll find taller plants, such as purple Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), red roses, hardy hibiscus, and yellow yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’ or ‘Coronation Gold.’)

In another section of the border, iris and red garden phlox meld with yarrow and Russian sage behind  the brighter, low-growing plants.

In another section of the border, iris and red garden phlox meld with yarrow and Russian sage behind the brighter, low-growing plants.

Toward the back, observe the red and white tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), spruce, iris, and Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’).  There’s even a tomato in a cage in the back of the bed by the front porch, but you can’t see it in pictures.

Although this border sits in shade during the morning, it tolerates blasts of intense sunlight throughout the afternoon.

You can easily find all of these high-performing plants at a local Colorado garden center.

I would add a word of caution, however–Jupiter’s beard and Russian sage can re-seed aggressively. So if you don’t want to play referee with your plants, you might consider substituting long-blooming Rozanne cranesbill (Geranium ‘Gerwat’) for Jupiter’s beard, and petite plum dwarf butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii nanhoensis ‘Monum’) for Russian sage.

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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness

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