With morning sun followed by dappled shade, this foundation bed offers a home for a range of plants. Japanese maple, summersweet, hydrangea, and hosta enjoy an afternoon reprieve from hot sunlight, keeping them fresh. Yet there’s enough light for sun-loving mums, asters, and sedum to flourish and add their bountiful colors to the mix.
- Purple aster (Aster novae-angliae), Zones 4–8
- Burgundy Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum), Zones 5–8
- ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre), Zones 3–11
- Yellow mums (Chrysanthemum spp.), Zones 5–7 or annual
- Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), Zones 5–9
- Hosta (Hosta spp.), Zones 3–9
- Eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis), Zones 5–9
- Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Zones 3–9
- Dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), Zones 5–9
- Burgundy coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), annual
- Zebra grass (Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’), Zones 5–9
The burgundy cutleaf foliage and cascading habit make this Japanese maple an instant focal point. Where winters are harsh, grow it in a container and shelter it in an attached garage or cool basement while it’s dormant. Keep roots slightly moist until returning the tree to the garden in spring.
Brightly colored mums are a staple in autumn gardens. Although hardy in some climates, they are often treated as annuals. Large potted specimens can be overwintered in the same way as Japanese maple, or the roots can be mulched heavily in fall and uncovered in spring.
With its ample size and unique foliage, zebra grass isn’t about to become lost among the colorful mums and asters. Allow it to remain in place for winter interest, then cut foliage at the base in early spring to make room for new growth.
Another autumn staple, ornamental kale looks great in a landscape or planter. Pair it with other cool-season plants such as pansies or gerbera daisies for a bright and cheerful effect that lasts well past the first frost.
With plenty of moisture, these diminutive hostas do just fine among traditional sun-loving flowers such as mums and asters. Taller companion plants provide an extra bit of shade protection when the sun is shining.
The chartreuse foliage of this popular sedum brightens the bed throughout the season. And this ground cover’s sprawling habit looks right at home spilling over the stone retaining wall.