Perennial Garden Ideas and Flower Gardening Tips

Perennial garden ideas to help you plant beautiful borders. Designing a perennial garden around a water feature. Planting a flower bed that highlights your hard scape. Single color gardens.


Beautiful to look at and easy to maintain, the perennial garden is more often cultivated than any other type. Its success is the product of a well-laid plan that takes the climate, site, and gardener's personal taste into account while respecting just a few basic design principles.

Because perennials are hardy, adaptable, and simple to grow, this is a garden style that allows the gardener to spend more time enjoying the landscape than working in it.

Here are a few perennial garden ideas to help you create a planting full of beauty and variety:

Corral the Plants in Parterres

Russian sage marks the corners of parterres filled with roses.

Perennial Garden Idea:

To infuse a parterre garden with more color and a bit of fragrance, edge the beds with annual sweet alyssum outside the hedges.

This perennial garden is laid out in concentric circles of clipped box, a design which focuses the eye inward toward the small fountain at the center.  Also, notice the stone bench "couched" in hedging material in the background.

Parterres are typically used in formal gardens, but the degree of formality can be manipulated by your plant choices.

For a stately garden: Use a restricted color palette.  Limit the number of species, and stick with plants of similar mature height.

For a more relaxed planting: Fill the beds with a greater variety of species and flower colors, and use plants of varying sizes.


Perennials and Water Features are a Natural Match

This pondside perennial garden peaks during late summer and fall.

Swatches of Black-eyed Susan flowers alternate with clumps of Joe Pye Weed and purple coneflowers to create an exciting display at the water's edge while water lily leaves float lazily on the surface of this man-made pond.

Here, orange daylilies and plain green Hostas make for a more subdued planting.

Water is considered by many to be an essential perennial garden design element.  Without the splash and trickle of a fountain or the reflective surface of a pond or pool, a planting may seem incomplete.


Focus on a Single Color

The most important task that garden plants perform is the contribution of color.  Color brings a garden to life.  It establishes a mood.

Combining flower and foliage colors to achieve just the desired effect in a garden bed is one of the most challenging aspects of planning a perennial garden. 

Planning a garden around a single color is much simpler.

Once you've decided to plant an all yellow, white, or blue garden, you simply need to select plants that bloom throughout the growing season in the selected hue.

You will want to juxtapose plants with coarse foliage against those with fine leaves, but the worry of whether the red  flowers will be in bloom at the exact same time as the yellow blooms you want to foil them will have been eliminated.

Single color gardens are always sophisticated, but there is none more so than the white garden.

White flowers also capture the sun's rays and later release them to illuminate the garden as dusk falls.  They remain visible much later into the evening than blossoms of any other color, an important feature for gardeners with day jobs.

Garden path through lavender spring borders.

As the image above demonstrates, an all blue garden can also be quite pleasing.  Strands of pinkish-purple Wisteria blossoms dangle over a garden path edged with cat mint like necklaces on display in an open air market.


Plant Shapely Beds

Beds with sensuous curved edges provide more visual interest than those laid out in straight lines.

To get a smooth curve:

  • Use your garden hose to outline the plot. 
  • When you are satisfied with the shape and size, mark the perimeter with powdered lime.

Curved beds are well suited to informal landscapes.  Formal gardens require the discipline of straight lines.

Highlight the Hard Scape

Tall, upright Canna plants and purple fountain grasses echo the shape of the structure behind them.  The rosy blooms of the grass also repeat the color of the stone.

Notice the use of repetition here.

Repeating the same plant groupings at regular intervals creates a pleasing and cohesive design.



More Perennial Gardening Advice:

Blue to Purple Perennial Flowers

A List of Yellow Perennials

Perennial Gardening in the Shade

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Plants Featured in This Article

Harlow Carr Rose icon
Claire Austin Rose icon
Rudbeckia Goldsturm icon
Echinacea Primadonna Deep Rose icon
Red Fountain Grass icon
Cana, The President icon
Catmint - Walkers Low
Ladys Mantle
Purple Wisteria
Green Velvet Boxwood

Lily of the Nile

Allium, Rising Star
Hosta, Royal Standard
Daylily, Orange

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