Rob D. Brodman
Every garden deserves a colorful border brimming with flowers, foliage, and blooming shrubs. You can plant one anywhere - along a front walk, beside a lawn in the backyard, at the edge of a patio - as long as it's the center of attention from inside or outside the home.
Each of these three borders will thrive in full sun (only the abutilon and hydrangea in the "Cool Perennials" border requires afternoon shade). And each has a different theme: a cool medley of pink-flowered perennials, planted among burgundy grasses and silvery shrubs; an ornamental and edible border packed with basil and eggplant; and a tropical border that combines big leaves and bright flowers. For each, we provide the plans and plant sizes.In mild climates, plant in February for bloom in late spring and summer. Where winters are cold, wait until weather warms to plant.
Cool perennials: Plant flowering types with pink blooms among silvery and plum foliage; accent with grasses.
A new twist on the pink theme, a border that pairs pink-flowered plants with subtle splashes of gray, green, and maroon foliage is more sophisticated than sweet. This triangular planting (12 feet long at the front) is a lively focal point of a backyard garden in San Francisco; it was designed for viewing from picture windows at the back of the house as well as from a raised deck at the rear of the garden. Heuchera, ornamental grass, and silvery artemisia mingle with abutilon, airy clusters of pink gaura, coneflower, and hydrangea to soften and hide the base of the deck. The border curves between the garden's back fence and the deck (just left of the gaura in the photo above). Bark mulch covers the soil between plants; Trex benderboard finishes the front edge.
Plant cuphea, salvia, and verbena for color among mixed basils, eggplant, and pepper.