Notes from the Garden: Create a Summer Sunny Color Border

A garden of purple and white flowers with a blue sky
Create a sunny, colorful border for your garden this summer, Photo: Courtesy Unlimited Earth Care

A sun-loving summer border offers an astounding array of brilliantly colored flowers that are not on display at other time of year.

The border introduces a full palette of colors by mixing different heights, textures and flower shapes. Summer is the season for the brightest colors in the garden, in addition to summer-blooming trees, shrubs and perennial flowers. Garden flowers offer an amazing range of bright reds, yellows and blues.

Borders should usually incorporate the plants in a gradation of heights for added depth and visibility. Place the larger plants in the background while working the smaller plants into the foreground, but allow those along the edges to intermingle. For added interest, include shrubs and flowers with different shapes and textures—upright and bushy plants; spikey, round and trumpet-shaped flowers; and bold, glossy leaves. Plants should be arranged in clumps or drifts and according to blooming time for greater visual color impact over a longer period.

Summer borders work better using highly contrasting colors that are farther apart on the color wheel. Placing them next to each other emphasizes this contrast. Try to imagine a border with such plants as purple and lavender Buddleia with white PeeGee hydrangea as the background; red Crocosmia, purple Lythrum, yellow Rudbeckia, white Shasta daisies, and blue Perovskia in the middle sections; and purple Salvia, grey Stachys, white Calamintha and yellow Coreopsis in the front. Contrasting color schemes can be quite beautiful while attracting natural life such as butterflies and hummingbirds.

Basic soil treatments are required for any garden installation. Organic additives can enhance soil texture and supply the various nutrients your plants need to grow healthy and thrive, providing the best possible blooms. In most cases, garden soil needs periodic improvement to help meet the demand for nutrients. Adding natural organic conditioners can accomplish this. The conditioners may be any number of organic materials, from well-rotted manure to composted leaves. Most of these help improve the soil in different ways by adding nutrients while also improving drainage. Soil conditioners should be thoroughly blended into the existing soil.

Creating a summer sunny color border that blooms with successive waves of flowers from the beginning to the end of the summer makes good design sense and will make your overall landscape more vibrant. Aim for a mix of plants with staggered bloom times, heights and flower types. Select native plants whenever possible. Colorful flowers can bring joy into our lives and environment. They can make a landscape more engaging, embracing, warmer, more open or more closed.

Landscape designer, writer and lecturer Frederico Azevedo is the CEO of Unlimited Earth Care, Inc., providing landscape design and maintenance to the Hamptons for more than 20 years. For more information, call 631-725-7551 or visit

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