Garden paths lead the way in. They are often lined with flowerbeds, and the plants growing along those edges help define the garden's essential character.
Lines are important to a gardener. Edges mark transitions and serve the same purpose as frames around pictures: They set the flowerbeds sharply apart.
Gardeners draw these important lines in many ways. A row of bricks set on end makes a crisp edge along a path. To bring it to life, plant annual marigolds, alyssum or Calibrachoa alongside - or even a ruffled row of lettuce.
Silvery lamb's ears (Stachys) or artemisia sparkle like fireflies along the edge of a path. A low, clipped hedge of boxwood, or a border of Liriope mark an edge nicely and add form and texture to a garden composition.
Crisp, straight edges cut into a lawn with a sharp spade are perhaps the simplest edges of all. Such edges help keep weeds from creeping into flowerbeds, and they are easy to refresh with a few quick cuts. Cut edges also give you the flexibility to change the size and shape of the bed as the garden grows.
Even the most carefully defined edge tends to lose its crispness in summer, when flowerbeds are full. Keeping short plants along the edge of a path helps maintain order. But summer is a season of lushness, so don't be too quick to shear plants reaching across the line. Like a ruffle on a sleeve, they can be the finishing touch.
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