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Is it really possible to fill your garden with gorgeous, no-fuss plantings that don’t make huge demands on your time? You bet. This shrub border in Sunset’s garden offers proof; it’s from our newest book, The Western Garden Book of Easy-Care Plantings (Oxmoor House, April 2015; $24.95). A few tips from its pages….

1 Focus on flashy foliage

Foliage keeps this border looking good nearly all year. Wine-red Cordyline ‘Design-a-Line Burgundy’, silvery green Astelia chathamica x nervosa ‘Silver Shadow’, plum- hued Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Pixie’, and yellow-green Carex ‘Everillo’ cluster in the foreground; reddish nandinas brighten the back. The apricot- flowered Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ is a dramatic accent. DESIGN Johanna Silver, Lauren Dunec Hoang

2 Add Sparkle

All it takes to brighten this bronzy-hued planting of Carex secta and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, in a Beaverton, Oregon, is a back-splash of silvery Artemisia.

 

3. Get Playful

A trio of marine rope balls dresses this poolside patio in a California garden. Simple green plantings behind the patch of 3/8-inch ginger-colored decomposed granite include stout lady palms (Rhapis excelsa) in the 2-foot-wide raised bed, and a screen of clumping bamboo. DESIGN Daniel Nolan

4. Be cool

Frosty foliage seems custom-made for warm climates. This cool planting, in Los Alto, California, blends small mounds of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) with big bursts of frosty silver puya (P. coerulea x violacea). Phormium ‘Amazing Red’ and a lemony-green thread-leaf nandina (N. domestica ‘Filamentosa’) grow against the brushed stainless steel wall screen behind. DESIGN Jarrod Baumann.

 

 5. Keep it Simple

Here’s the easiest way to design container planting. Choose plants that have interesting foliage and varied shapes, then give each its own container to display in uneven numbers. A Yucca recurvifolia grows in the blue pot pictured, with silvery Graptopetalum paraguayense and a ‘Purple Queen’ bougainvillea to the right.

 

6. Replace the Lawn

We love the breezy look of this low-water meadow. A mixture of fescues (sold as Eco-Lawn), it replaced thirsty lawn grass in Menlo Park, California garden. The hummocky texture is most evident when the grass is not mowed, but the blend benefits from shearing twice a year to eliminate seed heads.

 

7. Improvise

Need a quick centerpiece for a patio table? Just show off in a cluster of tightly packed rosettes of hen
and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) in small pots. The plant in the foreground grows in just enough soil to fill a 4-inch nursery pot, with small stones packed around it. The plants get a little gentle irrigation in the summer. DESIGN Tish Treherne.

 

Want more? Watch for us at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show (sfgardenshow.com)

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