Q: What are some ideas to add dramatic impact to my garden?

A: During the heat of summer, it can be a challenge to spend long periods of time tackling garden projects, but it’s a great time to do small projects with a big impact! A well-placed, large pot with “thriller, filler and spiller” adds an exciting focal point on a patio or in a garden bed. Aim for a tall focal plant, a full-massed plant with lots of smaller flowers or colorful leaves, and draping plants to soften the pot edge. Display a grouping of pots for an even more dramatic impact.

Birdbaths, small sculptures, whimsical art pieces or ceramic and wood elements all make great focal points in small garden areas. Choose plants with dramatic or architectural shapes, colorful foliage or showy blooms. Interesting options are the purple or bronze foliage as seen on some redbuds, Japanese maples, Loropetalum or crape myrtles; large leaves on palms, caladiums and Ligularia; variegated foliage such as Agave, Alpinia ginger, coleus, Canna or Abelia; and clipped topiary evergreens like boxwood or yaupon.

Consider planting inviting vignettes and viewpoints that can be seen from your favorite air-conditioned spot so you can enjoy the garden even on sultry summer days!

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..