A small, confined area like this foundation bed makes the perfect spot for flowers. It's modest enough to be easily planted and maintained. Plus, it provides a convenient stage for a garden — right out front where everyone can enjoy it!
This design features a potpourri of colorful annuals for a cottage style. Despite the range of cultivars, heights, and colors, the design holds together. The reason is repetition. Orange, yellow, white, and purple flowers are repeated throughout. The hanging basket and porch rail planters share the same rattan material. And the pots and butterfly house coordinate with the house.
Follow along to see how we planted the bed. Then meet the stars of the show in our slideshow of plants.
Pick a sunny spot with good drainage. Start with a modest-size plot that is easily planted and maintained. You can always expand the bed later if desired.
To prepare the bed, remove grass or other plants, as well as roots and rocks. Loosen the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches, and amend with peat moss and compost to improve the soil.
Excavate the edges of the bed by digging twice as deep as the height of the pavers. Fill halfway with paving sand. Add pavers, wiggling them into place until they are level and packed snugly against each other. Backfill with topsoil.
After smoothing out the bed with a garden rake, it’s time to plant. Gently break off the circling roots at the bottom of the root ball (shown) and tease the remaining surface roots before planting. This will encourage roots to migrate into the soil.
Plant in waves, mixing tall and medium-size plants for an informal cottage style. Keep the shortest plants in front, where they can be seen easily. Spread a granular slow-release fertilizer labeled for flowers, and water well.
Black-eyed Susan vine (shown) will climb easier and look more natural if it has several pieces of support. In this case, we arranged narrow metal rods around the pole to provide multiple surfaces for the vine to wrap around.
Terra-cotta pots have a timeless appeal. For extra color and to coordinate with the surroundings, we painted the pots. It’s important to paint or seal the inside of the pots as well as the outside to prevent moisture from causing paint to blister.
With its clouds of diminutive flowers, ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia adds fine texture to the bolder marigolds in hanging planters. Both the euphorbia and marigold are low-maintenance and able to withstand heat with occasional watering.
The same yellow marigolds found in the porch rail planters are repeated in the bed for a cohesive look. They’re joined here by purple fountain grass, silver dusty miller, and purple-blue angelonia.
The style and color of the butterfly house match the residence. See how to build this attractive garden ornament.
The bed fills in quickly, giving you a long season to enjoy the flowers and multiple reasons to smile every time you open the front door. To learn more about the plants themselves, click on the slideshow.
A colorful shrub in warm areas of the country, lantana is a dependable annual elsewhere. In addition to its pungent fragrance, it boasts bright blooms of yellow, orange, pink, and mixes. A yellow-flowered variety was used in the hanging basket.
The spidery flowers give cleome its other name: spider flower. Also available in magenta, the white-flowered variety partners better with the yellow and orange flowers in this bed. It’s a prolific self-seeder, so you’ll get replacement plants next year.
A mildew-resistant zinnia with cheerful daisylike flowers, Zinnia angustifolia grows without pampering. It reaches 8–24 inches tall, depending on cultivar.
The large flowers of Profusion Yellow, a zinnia hybrid, are hard to miss -- and they keep showing off all summer. Plants grow from 12–15 inches tall and are resistant to mildew.
Also known as flowering tobacco, nicotiana is an adaptable annual with a season-long show. Shorter varieties boast trumpet-shaped flowers in colors such as pink, white, salmon, red, and lime. This bed features deep pink and white nicotiana.
Angelonia is a tender perennial (winter hardy in Zones 9–11) finding favor as an annual because of its upright habit and stalks of bright flowers. It loves hot weather but needs plenty of moisture.
Colorful and easy to grow, calibrachoa is like a small-flowered version of petunia. Because of that, it’s especially suited to growing in pots. It also fares well in beds if soil moisture is sufficient.
Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet potato vine looks great spilling out of a container or onto a sidewalk. The heart-shape leaves are available in burgundy, lime, and variegated colors. In this case, the burgundy foliage offers a pleasant contrast to companion plants.
With purplish blue flower panicles rising several feet in the air, salvia is hard to miss. Although a perennial in some areas, it’s usually treated as an annual and treasured for its long season of bloom.
Most of us know ageratum as a low-growing border plant, but you can also find cultivars that are up to 30 inches tall. The brushlike lavender-blue flowers are quite pretty if deadheaded regularly.
The double-flowered orange zinnia (Zinnia elegans) is a vigorous annual that packs a wallop of color. Occasional deadheading will ensure that only the brightest blooms remain.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) isn’t a prairie perennial like its namesake. It’s an old-fashioned twining climber that’s charming its way back to popularity.
The silvery foliage of dusty miller (Senecio cineraria) makes companion plants look brighter. A perennial in Zones 8–11, it is frost-hardy so you get a long growing season. If winters are mild, it sometimes returns in colder areas of the country.
Purple Fountain Grass
A perennial in Zones 8–11, purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Purpureum’) is an easy-growing annual elsewhere. It’s admired for its pendulous habit and dark purple foliage.