3 colorful, easy-care spring borders
Border 1: cool perennials
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.
Bark mulch covers the soil between plants; Trex benderboard finishes the front edge.
We added red-flowered cuphea, blue-flowered salvias, a lime green ornamental grass, a bright red edible pepper, a purple eggplant, and an ornamental pepper with purplish black foliage and berries that change from deep purple to red.
Use flowers of yellow, orange, and red to play off bold foliage in shades of green.
B. 'Mrs. Burns' lemon basil (4 inch)
C. 'Dark Opal' basil (4 inch)
D. Salvia ( S. longispicata x farinacea 'Mystic Spires Blue'; 4 inch)
E. Green sedge ( Carex dipsacea; 4 inch)
F. 'Siam Queen' Thai basil (4 inch)
G. 'Genovese' basil (4 inch)
H.Cuphea llavea 'Flamenco Rumba' (4 inch)
I. Red verbena (4 inch)
J. 'Cayenne' pepper (4 inch)
K. 'Listada de Gandia' Italian eggplant (4 inch)
L. Rose (existing)
For this 9- by 5½-foot planting, landscape designer Karen Donnelly combined coral, fiery orange, red, and yellow flowers with lime green and deep green tropical foliage.
A pot filled with elephant's ear and potato vine adds height and structure to the planting. In cold-winter areas, build the border for just a season, then start over next year. Or move the most valuable plants indoors for winter. You can also substitute hardy look-alikes, such as Japanese banana and honey bush, for true tropicals.
Design: Karen Donnelly, Redwood City, CA (650/224-3476)
B. Blood flower ( Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Deep Red'; 4 inch)
C. Lily turf ( Liriope muscari 'Majestic'; 1 gal.)
D. Celosia mix (sixpack)
E. 'Frau Louise Mayer' dahlia (1 gal.)
F. 'Park Record' semicactus dahlia (1 gal.)
G. Red and yellow cannas (existing)
H. 'Kelvin Floodlight' dahlia (1 gal.)
I. Mondo grass ( Ophiopogon japonicus; 4 inch)
J. 'Profusion Apricot' zinnia (sixpack)
K. Giant bird of paradise ( Strelitzia nicolai; 5 gal.)
L. 'Brilliant' hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Brilliant'; 5 gal.)
M. Sweet potato vine ( Ipomoea batatas 'Marguerite'; 4 inch; in pot)
N. Ruffled taro ( Colocasia esculenta 'Ruffles'; 1 gal.; in pot)
O. 'Kanga Red' kangaroo paw (1 gal.)