Sep 26th, 2015

Top 5 Summer Plant Displays

Fall is here and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is preparing to change out annual beds this coming week. I like to take photos of the displays for my own inspiration for next summer, but often forget until it’s too late.

You may like to do the same thing but (like me) don’t always get around to it. No worries – I have you covered this year!

Here’s my list of the top 5 things I noticed and liked about the displays at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this summer. Most are annuals, but I did include one of perennial grasses to remind me to plant more.

Since this is my personal view, it is subjective. Also, these are simply inspiration; I do not have a great garden at home – I’m a working mom with a few containers and a border in front of the house. What I like about this “Top 5” is some of the same plants and color schemes are do-able on a much smaller scale.

Front gate at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden1. Low Maintenance/High Impact
The Garden’s front gate is one of my favorite places for inspiration. It’s full-sun location has to look great throughout the entire summer, while requiring minimal maintenance. Coleus, lantana and celosia did the heavy lifting this year, with colors that were hot, hot, hot! The horticulture department pinched back the coleus to keep it thick and they also deadheaded the coleus once in the middle of summer to encourage a second bloom.

Bromeliad at Lewis GInter Botanical Garden2. Tempting Tropicals
I love the way the Garden has started using interesting and vibrant tropical plants in annual displays. Our guests seem to enjoy it, too; the elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta ‘Elepaio’) on the Main Garden Path were a big hit this summer — one guest said he felt like he was in dinosaur land. Bromeliads such as the one pictured, Aechmea blanchetiana, also added bright color and interesting texture.

Display bed at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden3. Plants as Edging
Okay, so every year, I line my plants up in front of the house. Boring! This year, I noticed the Garden’s displays had circles of coleus. And right in the center, was a contrasting plant – either a different color, or a spiky texture. You can see the technique here with coleus Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Pineapple’. Definitely on my list to try for next year.

Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden4. Great Grasses
When the Garden decided to remove turf in front of one of its most visible buildings – the Conservatory — it was making a statement that ornamental grasses can provide a beautiful and more environmentally friendly alternative to lawns. Now, one year later, there’s a purple haze of purple – pink muhlygrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and the results are stunning.

Light and dark plants 5. Light and Dark
Come over to the dark side! Bright color is great, but sometimes white blooms and dark foliage create dramatic effects. Here, wispy spurge (Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Inneuphe’ Diamond Frost®) stands out against coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dark Star’). A great way to bring big impact to a small space

Did you try any new plants, techniques or color combinations this summer? Tell us about it — we’d love to hear!


About Beth Monroe

Beth Monroe is public relations and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She feels honored to be part of a team connecting people and plants to improve our community.

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