Almost any plant can be considered a ‘wonderful’ specimen if planted where its attributes show it off to advantage. Take for example, the colors of foliage and flowers. Alone they may or not look well standing by themselves, but when you combine that plant with another that sets off the colors, you have the beginnings of a memorable display. Some of us think we have no talent for that, but it is easy to follow the traditional (as well as more modern) tastes in color complements and contrasts of the color wheel. Or just look around you and notice what you like… You may not even know the plant, but you can think about the very basic ideas of colors only. Is it purple, and pink, light or dark, shiny, fine or bold textured. You begin to get the idea. It is our own individual choice and preference that dictates what we like and plant in our gardens. What someone else likes/does, may not appeal to you. Or you may find a new combination and now it becomes yours as well to do in your own garden! With dark colors, a contrasting bright color(s) will give eye catching contrast. If you want more subtle, then choose complementary colors. Texture of foliage and growth habit of plants provide an additional layer of interest. Seasonal changes of deciduous species now becomes a thing of interest, instead of being thought of as ‘oh my garden is bare w/o leaves!’ if you plan those seasonal changes. Leafless twigs and branching offer endless variety in structural forms, colors of bark, and textures of bark.
If you garden in small spaces, those same principles apply. Dark colors provide a backround, while brighter colors give accent and draw attention. Think a dark plant like purple smoke bush (Cotinus) and add a bright thing like Hakonechloa (Japanese forest grass) and you have a very long display of colors. Now if you add something like one of the many abutilons, or mite resistant/immune fucshias, then you have additional flowers to that plant composition! All are easy care, come to see them at the nursery, and MANY other plant combinations as well.
The summer heat is just starting this year, but it is very good for plant growth with all the rains we have had. And think to the fall season as well. Spider and quill chrysanthemums are growing now and will be in bloom at the growing season’s end! Nobody grows them anymore, I just don’t know why… as they are spectacular and there is no flower like them!
Japanese iris are coming into bloom. They are the most spectacular of iris, with blossoms in excess of 12″ in some cvs.! They like moist rich acid soil, more than 1/2 day of sun. You can also plant them in boggy conditions, provided they are not below water in the winter. Truly spectacular blooms in violet, cobalt blue, all shades in light and darks, whites, reddish and pinks, and the color patterns on the petals give a most impressive display! blue and white, etc. etc.