An easy-to-grow low-maintenance 5-plant perennial garden bed for busy people, weekend gardeners, and beginners.

An easy 4-plant garden in pink can be found on this page.

Basic Garden Color Theory - Handy for choosing plants in your favorite colors.

Garden Gate magazine came up with a very easy perennial garden plan that's great for the newbie gardener to create as a single or multiple island bed design. You can use this design idea to create additional square or rectangular matching gardens by outlining the gardens with annuals and potted plants to create rectangle and square-shaped beds. This garden can grow as you do.

If you wish to add some colorful annuals to pop in between the plants, it's easy to just place potted annuals or your own suitable houseplants among the perennials and add some more eye candy to your garden. Potted annuals means you can control their spread, and you can move them around or remove them as the perennials grow. Some annuals are suitable houseplants. Most of your houseplants would love to spend a summer outdoors under proper conditions, and you'd be surprised at their growth and good health.

Below, you will find the planting diagram and a list of suggested perennials from Garden Gate magazine. You can choose any annuals you wish to fill in gaps or to outline your garden bed. My alternative plant list is included below. Add birdbaths and birdfeeder, and you have a lovely little bird habitat.

Perennials listed come in all kinds of varieties. If you wish to switch some out with a more personalized pick or color, just choose another with the same growth and care attributes and needs, and be sure they will grow in your garden's hardiness zone. The plant label will tell you what zones that plant with thrive in. To find your plant hardiness zone, just check the USDA Cold Hardiness Zone Map. 

Planting Key

A. Maiden grass ‘Gold Bar’

Upright habit with horizontal gold stripes on leaves; copper-pink late summer to fall flower heads 
Full sun 
3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide 
Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9
Number to plant 3

B.  Sea holly  ’Sapphire Blue'

A beautiful and unique-looking plant. I've grown them, and they look awesome as accent or focal point plants in any garden design. They are beautiful in large purple pots. Spiny blue flowers in mid- to late summer with spiky foliage. Awesome as a cut flower.
Full sun 
24 to 30 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide

**This plant is not happy being transplanted, and has a long taproot, so be sure you plant it where you ultimately want to keep it.
Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 
Number to plant 7

C. Salvia ‘May Night’

Dark Lavender-blue flowers open in early to midsummer that will bloom for two months
Full sun 
18 to 24 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide 
Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9
Number to plant 11

Note: Salvia comes in many colors and sizes - feel free to choose one or more types or colors. 
You can mix it up with lavender of the same height, or Veronica, which also comes in several colors and similar heights.

D.  Cranesbill (Perennial Geranium)

Light pink flowers in late spring, reblooms
Full sun to part shade 
6 to 9 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide 
Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8 
Number to plant 10

My choice as an alternative: Snow in Summer (cerastium)
This is a beautiful, mounding groundcover plant covered in pretty little white flowers spring til fall. 
It spreads out like a low mat of foliage and flowers. Keep trimmed if you don't want the 12" spread. I just let mine grow unless it grows outside it's boundary. It looks very pretty all year. Leaves are soft to the touch, and blue-green.  The foliage adds texture to the garden. 

Snow in Summer also looks beautiful growing over or between rocks, tumbling over the base of a potted plant, and as a filler for any garden spot that needs a little something between plants. Trim as you wish to keep it growing in a particular way. Mine blooms intermittently beginning in late spring and all through summer. The foliage is ornamental even when the plant is not blooming. I plant this at the base of my potted honeysuckle as a filler and spiller.
Grows in Full Sun and Partial Shade
Number to Plant 10

E.  Sedum - ‘Lynda Windsor’
Sedum is a succulent and needs very little attention.

Dark burgundy leaves and stems on a  compact plant
2- to 3-in.-wide clusters of ruby flowers in late summer to fall 
Full sun 
12 to 18 in. tall, 12 to 16 in. wide 
Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9 
Number to plant

I grow several varieties of sedum in similar sizes and in a variety of colors of bloom and foliage. Choose one in the color that you like best. 
Sedum is one of the easiest plants you can grow. Easily transplanted to other parts of your garden and landscape. It likes to wander a little, so I give away a lot of divisions. Grows well in-ground, and is beautiful in pots, as well. I have several growing in shallow succulent planters set into my gardens, and I grow some in-ground. Sedum is also very pretty as part of a planting of succulents and growing among cactus plants. "Autumn Joy" has big pink and ruby-colored flower heads.

I grow some to fill in the bare areas of soil at the bottoms of  potted trees. Choose sedum that is less than the 18" tall suggested above - The fat, succulent stems will tend to flop over if too tall when it flowers. Mine average 10 inches tall. Somewhere between a ground cover and small plant. Needs no trimming, and t is drought tolerant. Rabbits seem to ignore it.

To download a .pdf format copy of this design, click here.

Basic garden color theory

Harmonious colors are next to each other on the color wheel and have a soothing effect. These softer color combinations include blue and violet, orange and red, and orange and yellow. Using harmonious colors unifies a garden while still allowing a range of color.

Complementary colors are opposite from each other on the color wheel. These are high in contrast and add drama and excitement to your garden. Combinations of yellow and violet, orange and blue or green and red varieties are examples of complementary colors.

A monochromatic color scheme is composed of plants of the same color. You may have an all-white garden or a garden that is all pink or blue. Create extra interest in a monochromatic garden by using a mix of tones or shades of the same color in addition to various textures, shapes and sizes.

Foliage color should be considered in any color scheme. Foliage with green and white or green and yellow variegated leaves adds interest to the garden. There are also plants with chartreuse, lime green, bronze or reddish/purple leaves that add a bold element to your garden.

Pastels and muted colors set a peaceful and tranquil mood. These colors include soft pink, lavender, lilac and peach. When using pastel colors, consider where the flowers will be planted. Pastel flowers look best when viewed from a short distance and tend to look washed out in the bright, mid-day sun. Pastel colors can be used in distant parts of the garden to give the illusion of being even further away.

Bright or primary colors include red, orange, magenta and bright yellow. These colors are guaranteed to energize the garden. The color will show well in the bright sunshine and also attract your eye from a great distance. Do not combine bright colors with less intensely colored plants — the brightly colored ones will steal the show.

White flowers are in a color class by themselves. They blend well with every color and can also be used as a transition between colors that do not normally work well together. And yes, you can have white flowering plants after Labor Day. Like Hydrangeas, clematis, jasmine, Coneflowers, Chrysanthemums and Honeysuckle. Many hostas also feature pretty white flower stalks summer through fall. As do many ornamental grasses. Mix 'em up according to bloom time for a rotating flower show.

Warm colors include red, orange and yellow. They tend to make flowers appear closer than they really are.

Cool colors such as blue, violet, silver and white lend a calming effect and make plants appear farther away in the garden.


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