The Dirt

Designing a Tranquil Garden: Plant IDs

Simplifying the color palette and embracing natural elements can create an oasis of well-being

Fine Gardening - Issue 167

From Designing a Tranquil Garden, from Issue #167 (January/February 2016)

My ideal garden is a serene place, one in which I feel connected to the natural world through rich, sensory experiences. It is a place that generates a sense of well-being. Creating a diverse, densely planted, layered garden with some mystery and some surprise is the intention. (Read the rest of the article on page 48 of Issue 167!)

  1. Ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris, USDA Hardiness Zones 2-8 )    
  2. Dwarf hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa  ‘Nana Gracilis’, Zones 4-8 ) 
  3. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum, Zones 6-9)  
  4. Box honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida, Zones 6-9)  
  5. Weeping katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum  f. pendulum, Zones 4-8)  

  1. German iris (Iris germanica, Zones 3-9) 
  2. Heuchera (Heuchera americana, Zones 4-9)
  3. Broad-leaf sedge (Carex siderosticha `Variegata’, Zones 4-9)  
  4. New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis, Zones 5-9)   
  5. ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta (Hosta  ‘Sum and Substance’, Zones 3-9)  
  6. Maxwell Norway spruce (Picea abies `Maxwellii’, Zones 3-8)  
  7. Maxwell Norway spruce (Picea abies `Maxwellii’, Zones 3-8)  
  8. Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus , Zones 3-8) 
  9. ‘Paul’s Glory’ hosta (Hosta  ‘Paul’s Glory’, Zones 3-8)  

  1. ‘Sky Pencil’ Japanese holly (Ilex crenata  ‘Sky Pencil’, Zones 5-7)
  2. Golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra  ‘Aureola’, Zones 5-9) 
  3. Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica, Zones 6-11 )
  4. ‘Gold Mine’ inkberry holly (Ilex glabra  ‘Gold Mine’, Zones 4-9)
  5. Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense, Zones 2-8)  

  1. ‘Elegans’ hosta (Hosta seiboldiana ‘Elegans’, Zones 3-9)  
  2. Variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum  ‘Variegatum’, Zones 3-8) 
  3. Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum var. pictum, Zones 5-9)
  4. Hosta (Hosta ventricosa, Zones 3-9) 
  5. Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina, Zones 4-9) 
  6. ‘Blue Angel’ hosta (Hosta ‘Blue Angel’, Zones 3-9)
  7. Creeping saxifrage (Saxifraga stolonifera, Zones 6-9) 
  8. ‘Smokey Blue’ lungwort (Pulmonaria saccharata  ‘Smokey Blue’ , Zones 4-8)
  9. ‘Limelight’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides  ‘Limelight’, Zones 12-13) 
  10. ‘Hummingbird’ summersweet (Clethra alnifolia  ‘Hummingbird’, Zones 4-9)  

  1. Lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina, Zones 4-9)
  2. Variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum `Variegatum’, Zones 3-8)
  3. German iris (Iris germanica, Zones 3-9) 
  4. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum, Zones 5-8)
  5. Bowles’ garden sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’, Zones 5-9)


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  1. vanleeuwengreen 02/25/2016

    Plants really make a garden, they are what give it beauty and depth. So, it is essential that you plan ahead in choosing and identifying the best type of plant for every part of your garden. This choice can be confusing and if you are a first timer, you can always contact an expert on plant selection like These professionals know what kinds of plants are best suited to the type of garden you want. You can never go wrong with asking for a bit of help.

  2. marc_thoma 01/08/2018

    There is some good advice here on foundational plantings. It’s a good start to creating your own tranquil garden. However there is much more to a tranquil garden that just that.

    For more ideas and insipiration, is your source for simple ways to create the most perfect retreat in your garden.

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