We’ve visited Syd Carpenter’s beautiful Philadelphia garden several times, and I’m always happy to go back and be inspired by her sharp sense of design and beautiful plant combinations.
Here, a small-leaved coleus cultivar dominates in a dramatic container. Around the base of the container is a planting of Epimedium (barrenwort, Zones 5–9). Epimediums have beautiful, delicate foliage, and often the new growth is flushed with bronze. Here, the reddish tones in the new leaves contrast beautifully with the lush green of the more mature foliage. In the foreground, betony (Stachys officinalis, Zones 4–8) puts up spires of pink flowers that complement rather than obscure the scene behind them.
Ferns and hostas are perfect companions; both thrive in the same conditions but give contrasting textures to the garden. Here they are both complemented by a piece of garden art.
Hypericum androsaemum (shrubby St. John’s wort, Zones 5–8) has colorful berries that have been popular in the cut flower industry but are just as great to use in the garden. Here it is surrounded by Japanese forest grass (Hokonechloa macra, Zones 5–9).
White caladiums (Caladium hybrid, Zones 9–11 or as annual or tender bulb) are a great way to brighten up a dark, shady area.
Diverse foliage textures set the stage, highlighted by pockets of flowers. The flowers are all shades of pink to purple, which ties the whole space together.
This peony (Paeonia hybrid, Zones 3–8) and petunia (Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’, annual) have very different flowers, but both share almost exactly the same shade of magenta in their petals, helping them work together visually.
A gold-leafed bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’, Zones 3–9) is the star here, the brilliant leaves glowing all the brighter for being surrounded by dark greens and purple flowers.
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