pennisetum rubrum, verbena in white and magenta, and white petunias

When looking for good garden design ideas, you may sometimes be surprised where you find them. I was struck by an artful planting as I was driving along Cambridge Street in Boston. This eye-catching mixed bed of perennials and annuals shows a way to approach the transition to fall. Usually obscured at midday by those who work in the area, many seated along the concrete edging,  airy plumes of Pennisetum rubrum (purple fountain grass) take front stage, while sun-loving annual verbena in white and magenta pour over the edge and African marigolds provide a pop of orange.

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The light-catching, ethereal plumes of tall perennial grasses complimented by the gorgeous mass of deep rose cleome in the foreground, all draw the eye upward, filling in as perennial sedum, Russian sage, and Shasta daisy fade. Under-planted, yellow-to-orange mums fill in bare spots.