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Taming a High-Impact Design

A structured approach puts lush color and texture in the spotlight

Fine Gardening - Issue 189
That's a lot of color! The effective use of focal points, massing, and a limited color palette keep this vibrant garden from feeling unkempt or unruly. Photo: Carol Collins

The back patio is the heart of our two-acre garden in Indianapolis. Convenient to the house, it is a favorite spot for dining and relaxing, and it is a central hub for the paths that connect our back doors and driveway to the garden beyond.

When planting around this pivotal spot, I set out to create a colorful, inviting space with a tropical vibe during the warmer months. I wanted it to have a naturalistic style, with ­plenty of contrasting textures, forms, and colors so that there would always be something to catch the eye.

To keep the design from feeling chaotic, I used a focused color palette, carefully sited centers of interest, and strategic massing for a calming effect. Here’s how I make it all work.

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