But what makes this particular space catch the eye? This is just a simple sloping bed above a driveway, without especially dramatic features or plantings (and with a lot of browsing deer!), yet many people name this image as one of their favorites. We think that three elements, one fortuitous and two by-design, give this space such wide appeal.
- Slope - Many gardeners are intimidated by hills, but sometimes they open the door to better design. The "canvas" of this bed is tilted towards the driveway, allowing us to create a tapestry of relatively low plantings. Had these beds been on level ground, the plants at the back would have been lost behind those in the front. The hillside also allowed us to screen the neighbor's property without using big, bulky shrubs. For more great design ideas for a sloping space, see our guest post for Sunset, "How to Create a Beautiful Hillside Garden."
- Foliage color - People are often surprised to realize that this colorful image includes relatively few flowers. While the larger garden features lots of flower power, we wanted to spend less time deadheading and pruning in this section. Color was still a priority, so we included plants with foliage that was variegated, silver, blue and even rusty orange (the ferns peaking out in the left side of the main image). In addition to lowering maintenance time, colorful foliage also provides year-round impact - an important attribute for an entry bed like this one!
- Plant form - Our client prefers soft-looking plants, and the perennials and grasses that dance through this bed certainly fit that bill. However, a planting made solely of soft, but shapeless plants would feel jumbled and chaotic. In this planting, structural conifers give the scene a little backbone, while vertical allium blooms and spiky iris contrast with the floppy shapes of the dominant plantings.
Those three elements combine to create not just a beautiful one-time photo, but a low-maintenance planting that attracts attention throughout the year. Best of all, they can be combined in different ways to beautiful effect in almost any garden.
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