We all have areas in our garden that pose a significant design challenge. Such is the case with this bijou bed adjacent to our main patio. It is seen from the kitchen windows year-round yet is part of a 5-acre landscape with much larger sweeping borders. Measuring approximately 12 feet square with a central container as a focal point, this does pose a few significant challenges.
- Make it interesting enough to be viewed up close without resembling a collection of random plants
- Tie it into the larger landscape design which features bold sweeps of plants and color
- Bring four season interest as well as blasts of unapologetic summer color to enjoy from our patio
- Soil is sticky clay in parts and generally saturated in winter due to a perched water table so not great for typical drought tolerant plants, yet…
- Full sun
- No irrigation except for the container, so everything must be drought tolerant once established
- Prone to damage by deer, rabbits, voles and slugs….. and a dog chasing the rabbits
When considering an overall color scheme I think in broad strokes rather than specifics. Most of my garden has a "sunset" color scheme, which gives me a lot of creative license to include shades of pink and orange as well as midnight blue-purple if I wish to. This in turn stops everything getting too matchy-matchy and gives serendipity a chance. It's also important to avoid a color scheme which is all high contrast. So chartreuse and purple get tempered with blue-green and silver adds a fun youthfulness.
I repeat colors used in the larger landscape in this small bed such as shades of burgundy, gold, purple, silver and blue, which provides a sense of cohesion even if the same plants are not always repeated.
As always, I use the color of foliage to anchor the design even in small spaces so that I'm not constantly waiting for things to bloom or disappointed when they have finished flowering. I also vary the texture of plants, their shape, and their height for visual interest. I especially like using the grasses to create an ethereal scrim effect.
Plants used (this year!)
Tiger Eyes sumac (in container)
Denim 'n' Lace Russian sage (not in bloom yet)
Arizona Sun blanket flower (not in bloom yet)
Silver Bullet wormwood (although this has overwintered….but I now have to cut off the flowers to keep it tidy)
Red/yellow bicolor zinnia (grown from seed)
Apricot Blush zinnia (grown from seed)
Asian Garden celosia (grown from seed)
Bonfire begonia (in container)
Diamond Frost euphorbia (in container)
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