Big Color, Small Budget
You can make your garden really stand out by using intense eye-grabbing combinations of plants that look good over a long period of time. If you want lots of color in your garden, but have a small budget, read on.
The plants listed below are the ones that have thrived and provided lots of color for their price. They may be some of the best investments you can make for your own colorful garden.
But first, a tip: opt for double-duty plants. Flowering plants are often picked for the color of their blooms alone; for your garden, you should demand more. Why not enjoy the leaf color, the texture and the shape of the whole plant while you wait for the blooms?
Worthwhile annuals to buy each year
Plants typically grown in containers often do even better in your garden.
- Wave petunia: A prolific grower and it can fill quite a large area they will cover a large area with a blanket of flowers that will last through the first light frost.
- Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea): Its color can be lime green, blackish-red or tricolor (pink, white and green). This plant looks great as both a complement and a contrast to other colors in the garden.
- Geranium (Pelargonium): Try some of the types with variegated foliage, which have beautiful patterns on their leaves in shades of yellow, pink or red. They also sprout vibrantly colored flowers.
- Canas: the many varieties have orange, green, burgundy and scarlet colored leaves and can grow up to six feet tall. Hummingbirds love its intense-hued blooms. This plant grows and multiplies so well, you will want to dig the tubers and keep them over winter in a frost-free place.
- Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'): Showy burgundy leaves complement the pinkish-purple foxtail blooms that cover this elegant grass.
The following plants are born to bloom again.
- Newer types of irises and day lilies come in many colors and perform again later in the season.
- Shasta and other daisies (such as the white, cream and bright-yellow varieties) and the clustered bellflower (Campanula), which has intensely blue blooms, are just some of the plants that will give you another show if you cut them back.
Easy fillers and food for wildlife
Not only do these plants provide blooms from June until it freezes, but their flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds, helpful insects and butterflies. Additionally, the blooms turn into seeds that feed winter goldfinches and other birds.
Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora): This grows quickly and is easy to divide. Its scarlet flowers are edged with bright yellow. Seed heads of this plant form perfect orange-red balls that look like lollipops.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia): Its yellow-, burgundy-, red-, rust- and brown-flowered varieties make this a great plant for adding color to your garden.
Grasses as moving sculptures
Grasses provide movement in the garden and can be a lovely focal point on their own. The color in their leaves, their long-lasting 'blooms' and the fact that they provide winter interest make them an important element in any garden.
- Dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin'): It's the green perennial version of purple fountain grass and has lovely pink foxtail blooms that generally start in July.
- Graziella maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Graziella'): Its green leaves curl into corkscrew shapes as they change to copper-red and orange shades. It also features long-lasting explosions of fluffy plumes.
- Porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'): This grass is upright and bristly, and colored with horizontal yellow stripes. Its fall flowers are first pink and then fade to white. Its fall foliage is a tan-pumpkin color. A bonus in harsher climates is that it usually still looks good even in February.
- Variegated miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'): These grasses feature vertical light-green, dark-green and cream stripes, which draw attention to other colors in the garden. It has rich pink-toned flowers. The fall foliage turns shades of pumpkin orange.
Spreading the cheer
One of the great joys of gardening is sharing it with others. Color is arguably one of the strongest emotional influences known. Hence, your creativity in the garden can affect your neighbors, friends and complete strangers as they pass by.
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