Garden Photo of the Day

Carefully Chosen Colors Bring a Garden Together

Graphic design skills helped this gardener create a magical space

My name is Carol Verhake. I’m the current president of the Hardy Plant Society Mid-Atlantic Group and a landscape designer in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs. My passion for gardening started about 18 years ago when I bought my home and was forced to deal with overgrown shrubs, pachysandra galore, and a woodland that had been used as a dumping ground.

I was a graphic design major in college but never worked in the field. Instead, I pursued a 34-year career in healthcare IT. Now in my second career as a designer, I’m leverage my training in art and design. I noticed when I was taking the attached photos of my garden that the color wheel and the concept of complementary colors must have made a strong impression. Clearly, I like purple and yellow! In my opinion, it makes for a striking combination.

Ornamental onion ‘Millenium’ (Allium ‘Millenium’, Zones 4–9) has purple flowers that are complemented by the yellow foliage and flowers around it. Read our plant guide to ornamental onion here.


In another part of the garden, the same color scheme is at work. Here the purple comes from dwarf Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis var. pumila, Zones 4–8), phlox ‘Wanda’ (Phlox paniculata ‘Wanda’, Zones 4–8), and more Allium ‘Millenium’, with yellow notes coming from the leaves of hostas.


Zoom out a little, and you see that the same color combination is repeated across the garden, ensuring that the design works whether you are looking closely at a particular planting or taking the wide view of the whole space.


We usually don’t think of hostas for their flowers, but this one fits the color scheme perfectly! Lavender blooms and yellow variegated foliage.


Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy Carol’s design. Phlox is a great native perennial and is beloved by many pollinators, including this little hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe).


And finally, the most important feature of any garden: a place to sit and enjoy all the beauty.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    PKKing 08/16/2018

    Your garden is serene, Carol. The last picture of your sitting area next to the little stream looks so inviting! And your color combinations in the garden are lovely.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/16/2018

    It's all so very pretty but I just adore that little stream & sitting area.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/16/2018

    Your garden plant/color choices have a wonderful and pleasing rhythm and welcome the eye to keep rolling along. You didn't mention it by name but is the eye catching feathery chartreuse yellow clump in the fourth picture Japanese Forest grass or a variety of sedge? Love your very natural looking stream....your creation or Mother Nature's?

  4. btucker9675 08/16/2018

    What a lovely garden - your artistic eye is clearly at work here.

  5. wittyone 08/16/2018

    Oh such good advice about repetition of plants and colors to hold the big picture together. It's so easy to forget when you see a new empty spot in a garden bed and begin deciding what to fill it with. Your illustrations amplify that advice perfectly.

  6. user-3571852 08/17/2018

    Beautiful combinations! what is the name of the yellow hosta?

  7. perenniallycrazy 08/31/2018

    Outstanding garden!

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