A hanging basket of blooms
John Glover/The Garden Picture Library

Basket of Blooms

A hanging basket of trailing foliage or flowers like lobelia, impatiens, and pelargonium can give a shade garden a welcome shot of color at or above eye level.

Janet Loughrey

Fragrant Bloomers

The wisteria draping this arbor provides fragrance for the surrounding garden and masks an open-air wood shed beyond and below.

When building a structure for wisteria, be sure to use strong, durable lumber -- this one is made out of pressure-treated 4 x 4s and 2 x 6s.

Tulips on a rooftop
Michael S. Thompson

Rooftop Beauty

Tulips in rooftop planters provide spring cheer without the loss of ground space needed for building accessibility. While the flowers echo the red colors below, the box will weather and darken to match the old siding.

Climbing flowers
Judy White/GardenPhotos.com

Love Those Climbers

This clematis rambles along a rustic fence where, next to ruby red roses, its jewel-toned blooms double the flower quotient. For vertical color, train the vine on a trellis instead.

Flowers arranged by height
Friedrich Strauss/M.A.P.

Say Cheese

Design your garden beds the same way you’d snap a photo of your family: Place the shortest in the front (thyme) and the tallest in the back (‘Gertrude Jekyll’ rose) so that all can be seen.

This makes it important to know the heights of your plants, not merely at planting time, but as they mature.

Purple blooms
Friedrich Strauss/M.A.P.

The Color Purple

The theme of this garden -- the color purple -- applies to most everything, from campanula and liatris to the furnishings.

Limiting the palette to only a few chromatic variations, with white hydrangeas as a showy accent, is a good way to guarantee that all elements are compatible.

Flowers in various containers
Rosalind Creasy

Cool Containers

When spring garden beds are chock-full, containers can extend the cavalcade of color. Here, pots of ranunculus, hyacinth, and daffodils brighten a modest patio.

A container hung on the gate displays still more blooms.

Janet Loughrey Photography

Take a Seat

Two rhododendrons of completely different hues don’t usually add up to a balanced look. But judicious pruning, a quaint love seat, and color-coordinated pillows come together in a satisfying vignette.

Red flowers
Clive Nichols/M.A.P.

Ravishing Red

Roses high and low frame a statue placed prominently in the middle of the garden as a focal point.

Note how the white stone gleams against the dark, leafy background but the black arch vanishes amid the climbing roses.

Alan and Linda Detrick

Rose Gardens

A mix of red flowers and foliage pops out of this garden’s greenery, which disappears into the shadows.

When deciding on a color palette, keep in mind that stop signs are red for a reason, and then proceed with caution.

Bold yellow blooms
Jerry Pavia

Sunny Shades

The bold yellow blooms of black-eyed Susan aren’t for the shy and retiring, even when underplanted with more demure ageratum and sweet alyssum -- they are more like a theater’s spotlight.

Honeysuckle, climbing amid the yellow flowers, will add fragrance.

Contrasting flowers
Janet Loughrey Photography

Mix It Up

An exuberant mix of flowers and foliage guarantees that passerby notice this streetside garden.

The contrasting colors, textures, and shapes -- from the dahlias and cannas to the dusty miller and pampas grass -- combine to catch the eye and keep it entertained.

Red geraniums
Sunset Books, John Glover/The Garden Picture Library

Pots O’ Color

Red geraniums spice up a bland stucco wall. Displaying them in pots that drop into holes in the shelves protects them from being toppled by gusts.

Bright yellow and orange marigolds
Rosalind Creasy

Star of the Show

Marigolds -- and lots of them -- clearly star in this floral extravaganza; dahlias, morning glory, and hops play supporting roles. The lavish blooms demand attention in several areas at once, making the small space expand rather than shrink.

The blue bistro table and chairs contrast with the hot-colored petals but echo the decorative tiles.

For more garden, porch, and patio inspiration, purchase Big Ideas for Small Gardens .

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