Are your flower borders an exciting component of your landscaping? When you pass by them on the way to your mailbox, do they put a smile on your face? If the answer is no, it's time to look for some new ideas to jazz up these critical areas to improve the overall appearance of your yard.
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Border for Spring: Grape Hyacinths and Yellow Alyssum
Yellow alyssum, like creeping phlox, is often used as a flowering ground cover plant. Its bright yellow color contrasts strikingly with fragrant grape hyacinths. However, yellow alyssum is a bad-smelling flower, but if you aren't concerned about fragrance, yellow alyssum will surely wow you with its color.Continue to 2 of 13 below.
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Summer Border: Patriotic Combos for American Gardeners
For American gardeners, a popular idea is to create a summer flower border using red, white, and blue flowers. Such patriotic displays are usually composed, at least in part, of annual flowers. Annuals are inexpensive bedding plants, allowing you to plant an impressive display without breaking the bank. If you want all of the plants to be in bloom at the same time (such as around July 4th), be sure to choose plants that will bloom in unison.
In this patriotic border, the red color is achieved with geraniums, the white with annual alyssum, and the blue with blue ageratum, but one could just as easily use:
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- Red salvia (red)
- Shasta daisy (white)
- Victoria Blue salvia (blue)
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Fall Border: Autumn Joy Sedum
Autumn Joy sedum is a late-bloomer that's ideal for fall displays. A long-blooming perennial, planting it assures continuous garden color from late summer until the first hard frost.
In this garden, the Autumn Joy sedum is complemented by 'Silver Dust' dusty miller, among other plants. Dusty miller is a common choice when silver foliage is desired. The brightness of its frosty, white fronds softens the design that is otherwise dominated by the dusky-pink tones of the Autumn Joy sedum.Continue to 4 of 13 below.
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Foliage for Times Between Blooming Periods
It's not always "prime time" for a particular flower border. For four-season interest in the landscape, the key is to plan a flower border with just as much of an eye for foliage as for flowers. In this garden, 'Purple Fountain' beech tree provides a background to the golden type of creeping jenny ground cover in the foreground. This flower border also exhibits a pleasing variation in texture. For example, while the creeping jenny has leaves with a fine texture, the presentation of the hosta plants behind them is considerably coarser.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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The Perfect Flower Garden Border
This flower garden border pulls out all the stops with multiple components to keep the viewer interested. In addition to perennials, it exhibits:
- Annual plants
- Evergreen shrubs
- Yard art
- Cobblestone edging
- A wood fence
The annuals (marigolds) brighten the composition and provide long-lasting color for little money. The Pachysandra groundcover furnishes a nice, solid-green background and keeps the flower garden border from looking too busy. Meanwhile, the evergreen shrubs provide a different plant form (they're globe-shaped) from the rest of the vegetation.
The softscape only begins to tell the story of this flower garden border as the hardscape nicely complements the plantings. The yard art serves as a focal point, while the fence breaks up the planting into more easily digestible segments. Finally, notice the effect of the cobblestone driveway pavers lined up along the edge. One of the functions of garden edging or lawn edging is to frame a display area. The cobblestone achieves that and more. Its appearance is rustic enough to retain an informality akin to its flower garden border.Continue to 6 of 13 below.
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Ornamental Grass in Flower Borders
Ornamental grasses can play a role in flower beds. Tall or medium-sized grasses:
- Elevate the viewer's focus
- Furnish variation in plant forms
- Add motion and sound when blown by a breeze
Ornamental grasses that are tall to intermediate in height work well in flower beds as they don't overwhelm the other plants. Maiden grass, zebra grass, and purple fountain grass are popular options.Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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A Border Focused on Foliage, Form, and Texture
Different textures and plant forms can spice up a flower border considerably. The two bright red flowers in this garden are "love-lies-bleeding" and coleus. Coleus is an annual foliage plant that is indispensable for gardeners looking to experiment with color combinations in planting beds. It's a classic shade plant, although many types do just fine in bright sunlight as long as they receive sufficient water.
To the right of the love-lies-bleeding and the red coleus, the plants with the airy foliage are cosmos. Their feathery leaves contrast nicely with the rest of the flower border.Continue to 8 of 13 below.
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Castor Bean Plant in a Flower Border
The spectacular plant in the middle of this flower border with red stems and deep burgundy leaves is castor bean plant. This is a great example of how much a foliage plant can do to spice up a planting.
This type of castor bean plant has such dark leaves that it can be categorized as one of the so-called "black plants." As such, it's wonderful for color contrasts with brighter plants. However, castor bean plants are toxic, so they may not be the best plant to have growing in your yard if children will be playing there.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Maintaining Scale With Flower Borders
This large flower border with black-eyed Susans helps illustrate the principle of proper scale. If you can imagine a much smaller flower border in front of this home, you can see how it would be swallowed up by its surroundings. A house and landscape of this measure require a flower border sized to match.
The same principle works the other way around. Aesthetically speaking, smaller trees for one-story homes are generally the most appropriate choice.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Layered Flower Borders
Layered flower borders are composed of rows (or "ranks" as the British say). A layered perennial planting features tall perennials in the back row and short perennials up front, with medium-sized plants growing in between. Designers sometimes stray from this regimen for effect, as when a relatively tall plant is installed in the front row to make a strong statement.
From a practical standpoint, layering ensures that the shortest plants are not deprived of sufficient sunlight. You may also layer for aesthetic reasons, so that plants are arranged in the most pleasing composition, especially from the primary viewing angle.Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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Petunia Flower Borders
If you think your plantings always have to be complex to make a big splash, think again. This petunia flower border requires no help from other types of plants to dazzle the onlooker with magnificent color. The border also employs some clever tricks to suit its urban location:
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- The plants at ground level are growing in containers, although the containers are so well hidden that, at first glance, you might think they're growing right in the ground.
- Varying the color of the petunias (there are three colors) provides more interest than using one solid color.
- The ground display is supplemented by window boxes.
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Catmint and Tubs of Petunias
Catmint flower borders are pretty, but they can lack pizazz if left on their own. In this example, catmint gets some help from tubs of petunias. The containers are not disguised, and rightly so, since the ceramic tubs are gorgeous.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Begonias Used as Edging Plants
Flower borders sometimes take the form of flowering edging plants. Here, wax begonias (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum) create a colorful ring of alternating red and white flowers around a shrub bed.