Garden Photo of the Day

A Front Bed Looking Its Best

Dramatic plants put a planting over the top

My name is Tatyana Searcy, and my garden is located on the Kitsap Peninsula in the state of Washington. It was previously featured on the GPOD (plus, my photos have appeared in several other posts: Gazebo, Blue poppies, Lakewold Gardens, Butchart Gardens).

Today, I’d like to share the views of my front plant bed that I think was in its best shape ever last gardening season. And I know exactly what gave this plant bed its luscious, best ever look. Of course, many plants have reached substantial size, and several important plants have been added—among them, ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’, Zones 5–9) and ‘Oregon Pride’ hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oregon Pride’, Zones 6–9).

But I added two more important elements to this central bed in 2018. The first was a potted red banana plant (Abyssinian bananas, Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, Zones 10–11). When I got it out of the garage in spring, the tall red banana instantly added dramatic effect to the plant bed. In summer, when it unfurled its stunning dark leaves, it became a star of the front garden. What a gorgeous architectural plant it is! The second element was several containers with annuals that I placed in the front of the plant bed. Those were relatively tall containers that allowed their flowers to “float” and fill otherwise empty or dark spaces.

For two of these tall pots, I bought hanging baskets and just plopped them into the pots (instant gratification!). From afar, the pots were almost invisible and the flowers looked suspended in the air.

Only the central front bed is shown here, but the second red banana plant and several identical pots with annuals were located further to the right, on the opposite side of the driveway. It provided a sense of unity and rhythm to the entire front garden.

I hope to repeat the look of the front bed in 2019.

Red (Abyssinian) banana, a big bush of Hydrangea macrophilla ‘Oregon Pride’, Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax, Zones 9–11), and ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple are striking plants that define the look of this plant bed.

It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of the Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oregon Pride’ in this plant bed. It’s not just the large bright flower heads, but the big leaves and striking burgundy stems that attract attention.

Another important plant that adds interest to this plant bed is Senecio candicans ‘Angel Wings’ (Zones 8–10 or as annual). It was sitting in the same pot as the Abyssinian banana.

In this May picture, you can see two hanging baskets sitting on the top of tall containers with hooks still attached. Blooming annuals in containers provided color to this spot even when very few plants were blooming there.

Rose ‘Regensberg’

Poppies, Penstemon ‘Red Rocks’ (Zones 4–8), lilies, ‘Mr. Lincoln’ and ‘Regensberg’ roses, Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ (Kobold blazing star, Zones 3–8), chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Zones 4–8), Eremurus (foxtail lily, Zones 5–8), Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria, Zones 3–9), Fuchsia ‘Dollar Princess’ (Zones 9–11), and Digitalis purpurea (foxglove, Zones 3–8) are among the perennials growing in the front plant bed.

I recently introduced rose campion to the front garden. Its vividly colored flowers seemed to be too bright to me, but now I appreciate not only its flowers but its bushy, multistem structure. A single plant of rose campion can perk up a dark spot in a bed.

My Abyssinian bananas have already been overwintered four times in the garage.

‘Oregon Pride’ hydrangea looks good next to a purple-leaf Japanese maple.

Bigger plants in this picture are, from left to right: ‘Sungold’ thread-branch cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Sungold’, Zones 4–8), ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple, and ‘Canadale Gold’ wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Canadale Gold’, Zones 5–8).


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 01/24/2019

    Just absolutely stunning. Most gorgeous display ever! Congratulations.

    1. tatyanas 01/24/2019

      Thank you so much!

  2. Sunshine111 01/24/2019

    Lush and lovely! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. tatyanas 01/24/2019

      I'm glad you like it! Thank you!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/24/2019

    Kudos to you, Tatyana, for creating a hugely successful planting bed. In fact, it would be totally appropriate for you to give yourself a pat on your back! I love the drama of the large red leafed banana adds a real Yowza effect. And, part of why it works so well is that you have it surrounded so well by a plethora of perfect partner plantings. And the 'Oregon's Pride' hydrangea is a winner in every you do any soil additives to get the spectacular puple flower color

    1. tatyanas 01/24/2019

      Thank you! I don't do anything special for the blooms' color. Two more Oregon Pride hydrangeas grow behind the house; one of them is in a pot, and they have the same color.

  4. cheryl_c 01/24/2019

    Tatyana, I think you have outdone yourself for filling a bed with beautiful and unusual plants. For me, the scene-stealer was the senecio Angel Wings, a plant I'd never seen before despite receiving a plethora of garden catalogs. It appears to be very limited in its availability, but I do see it is only hardy to zone 8.
    A great companion for the banana, as they can move together to the garage in the winter! Thanks so much for sharing these warm bright photos.

    1. tatyanas 01/24/2019

      Thank you! Yes, I think it's safer to overwinter senecio in the garage or basement.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 01/24/2019

    That's an amazing arrangement of flowers and plants! I've never seen a garden quite like it before, with the plants you chose. Just beautiful. And I'm happy to learn of the Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oregon Pride’.

    1. tatyanas 01/24/2019

      Thanks! That hydrangea is a star!

  6. LauraJaneS 01/24/2019

    What a treat for you to see every day! Love the drama and bold colours. Well done!

    1. tatyanas 01/25/2019

      Thank you! Bold big-leaf plants make a big difference!

  7. btucker9675 01/24/2019

    Wow!!! Everything is just beautiful and that rose campion provides a wonderful exclamation point in that spot.

    1. tatyanas 01/25/2019

      Thank you for your comment!
      I like rose campion - it’s such an easy plant!

  8. stewpot 01/27/2019

    Wonderful color display - I always feel like your part of the country has so many choices. Thanks for sharing.

    1. tatyanas 01/27/2019

      Thank you! I should agree with you - Pacific Northwest provides a lot of gardening opportunities!

  9. User avater
    RaymondPHouse 01/29/2019

    Thanks for sharing this information!

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