Creating a garden around foliage is a surefire way to produce multiseason interest. While most garden beds focus on flowers, this mixed border emphasizes foliage plants of varying heights and textures, and throws flowers in for interest.
The bed's design also plays up contrasting plant shapes—big leaves next to strappy ones and upright plants alongside weeping forms. Evergreen shrubs and trees provide year-round color and create a backdrop for the multihued foliage plants.
Because the curving border grows in partial shade, where it's more difficult to create contrast, yellow and variegated foliage plants predominate. On gray days, the yellow-splashed leaves look like little beams of sunlight.
Our free Planting Guide for this garden includes an illustrated version of the plan, a detailed layout diagram, a list of plants for the garden as shown, and complete instructions for installing the garden. (Free, one-time registration allows unlimited access to Planting Guides for all garden plans.)
Garden Size: 17 x 30 feet
- 2 Japanese forestgrass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'): Zones 5–9
- 1 Winter daphne (Daphne odora): Zones 7–9
- 2 Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa): Zones 4–9
- 2 Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata 'Sundance'): Zones 7–9
- 4 Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba): Zones 3–10
- 3 Chocolate snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'): Zones 4–8
- 4 Angelwing begonia (Begonia coccinea): Zones 9–11*
- 1 Rhododendron spp.: Zones 5–11
- 1 Banana (Musa sikkimensis): Zones 8–11*
- 1 Winter heath (Erica carnea): Zones 5–8
- 7 Foetid iris (Iris foetidissima): Zones 6–9
- 3 Japanese anemone (Anemone × hybrida): Zones 5–9
*Can be dug in fall and stored indoors in winter.
Update a Border
Add some spunk to a lackadaisical border with these tips.
Assess growing conditions. Be sure plants are receiving the right light, moisture, and nutrient levels. If growing conditions have changed, consider moving plants or replacing them.
Add texture. Introduce a new texture to lend the planting space fresh character. Grasslike plants make an excellent texture statement. Try to integrate three or more plants that have the chosen texture.
Focus on form. Break up a mixed border that has become a jumble of stems and leaves by adding plants that distinguish themselves by their form. Plant spires of foxglove, a dwarf ornamental tree, or a shrub for height.