Garden tip from The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer by Stephanie Cohen & Nancy J. Ondra, 310 pages, soft cover, $24.95 — Storey Publishing, storey.com
Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra share their passion and knowledge about garden design in this book from which we’ve culled their tip on pastel plantings. Along with design basics, they present 20 garden plans, as well as the before-and-after stories of gardens they’ve created for themselves and their families.
Soft colors look great with just about any kind of home, and they are an excellent choice if you’re designing your first perennial garden. You’re practically guaranteed to get spectacular results. Here is a sampling of soft-colored plants for sun:
Achillea ‘Martina’ — Flat-topped clusters of yellow flowers that fade to cream appear through the summer over lacy, deep green leaves.
Aster ‘Wood’s Blue’ (pictured) — Twelve- to 15-inch-tall and -wide mounds of small, green leaves covered with daisylike, medium blue flowers from late summer well into fall.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ — This grass features narrow, upright, 2-foot-wide clumps of green leaves with 4- to 5-foot stems topped in pinkish tan plumes that emerge in midsummer and last well into winter.
Calamintha nepeta ‘White Cloud’ — Rounded 1-foot-tall and wide mounds of small very aromatic leaves sport clusters of tiny white flowers throughout the summer.
Coreopsis ‘Crème Brûlée’ — Soft yellow flowers appear from early to midsummer into fall atop 18- to 24-inch stems; spreads to 2 feet.
Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’ — Clusters of rosy pink blooms dangle above mounds of fine blue-green leaves from late spring throughout the summer.
Heuchera ‘Petite Pearl Fairy’ — Compact, 8-inch-wide mounds of lobed, bronze-purple, silver-mottled leaves send up airy spikes of small pink flowers on 10-inch stems in late spring and early summer.
Paeonia ‘Krinkled White’ — Snowy white petals surround golden centers in early summer atop sturdy, 30-inch stems clad in lobed, medium green leaves.
Phlox paniculata ‘Eva Cullum’ — Thirty- to 36-inch-tall stems bearing narrow green leaves are topped with large clusters of fragrant, medium pink blooms with darker pink centers from mid- to late summer or early fall.
Salvia nemorosa — Spiky, purple-blue flowers appear over medium green leaves from early to mid-summer, usually with repeat bloom if you deadhead regularly.
Sisyrinchium angustifolium ‘Lucerne’ — Grasslike tufts of slender, green leaves sport starry, bright blue, yellow-eyed flowers from late spring into midsummer.
Stachys macrantha ‘Superba’ — One-foot-wide clumps of scalloped, deep green leaves send up dense spikes of purplish pink flowers atop 2-foot stems from early summer to early fall.
Verbascum ‘Mont Blan’ — Two-foot-wide rosettes of glossy green leaves give rise to 3- to 4-foot stems featuring spikes of creamy white, yellow-centered blooms from early to late summer.