Instant patio

Three seasons, three uses

Spring: Make the patio a focal point. Place a birdbath and pots of blooming annuals such as purple nemesia and bacopa in its center. Edge it with low mounders ― New Zealand hair sedge 'Frosty Curls', 'Oriental Limelight' variegated artemisia ― and add color makers such as breath of heaven, pink marguerites, pink and purple anemones, Swan River daisy, lilac, Berberis thunbergii 'Aurea'. Tuck low growers such as creeping thyme between the bricks.

Summer: Bring out the bistro table and chairs. Tuck summer bloomers like purple verbena, yellow daisylike helianthus, purple coneflower, and coreopsis behind it. (Golden seedheads top eulalia grass behind chair).

Fall: Make it your secret garden. Surround it with billowy bloomers like this Tagetes lemmonii for privacy, or ― for fragrance ― English lavender or mock orange (Choisya ternata). Put a comfy Adirondack chair in the center.

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