You don’t have to be big to be beautiful – or to have potential.
This pint-sized courtyard had been planted with the ubiquitous builders basics of the Pacific Northwest – rhododendron, azaleas and andromeda (Pieris japonica).
While all three are evergreen offering ‘year round interest’, in reality they were seriously BORING, not least of all because their foliage was identical in color and shape. What this needed was a quick foliage makeover.
A dwarf coral bark maple provided a focal point, height and stunning red stems. It is important when selecting a tree for winter bark that you don’t hide it behind shrubs! In this instance I selected perennial ferns and grasses that would be dormant during those months, allowing the tree bark to be the star.
To add more color, Pink Frost hellebores were planted in a cluster. With evergreen foliage and a bounty of pink, burgundy, cream and apple-green flowers that last for many months, this variety remains one of my top picks. The pinkish-red tones echo the color from the maple tree too.
A few rugged boulders completed this updated vignette, contrasting perfectly with the soft, white-variegated Japanese forest grasses and finely textured Western maidenhair ferns. One rock was selected for its water-retaining depression in order to attract birds and butterflies.
Rich color contrast will come from the dark-leaved Hillside Black Beauty bugbane, while its height (typically 4-5′) will add balance to the composition and the vanilla-scented flowers will scent the late summer air.
Note that as with all designs, large and small, the final plant placement was somewhat different from the original plan. Never be afraid to move things around!
Is it time for you to tackle that less-than-stellar entry border? You’ll get lots more ideas for plant combinations that put Foliage First in our two books.
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