The Garden by the Street

Street Garden 01bOur Street Bed at the front of the property


The Street Garden way out in front of the property looks complicated but it really isn’t, once you know the underlying strategy. It breaks down into three simple rules: highs in back, lows in front, and keep it warm. If you think the plains before the mountains you have the idea. To populate the garden landscape, we used sweeps for the plains and drifts for the mountains. Overall this garden came together quickly, so we are going to share the design with you.

12 Street Bed
For reference, the Street Bed is Plan #12 in the 2019 Field Day Book


This garden works because it divides two long rows into three parts. Along the back are three anchors: red Canna, yellow Sunflowers, and orange Tithonia. All three plants grow waist high or taller, and they like to mass into mounds and stands. An important detail is to work in large groups when planting, and keep the outlines simple. Tall plants overgrow their edges so don’t expect them to draw clean lines.

In the front, we used low-growing Coleus, green leaf SunPatiens, and a yellow Lantana. We didn’t divide the garden into thirds exactly, but used it as a rough guide. With low color you see the bed outlines better, so your choice of lines has more impact. Straight lines feel more structured; smeared outlines feel more organic.

CAN Cannova Red 01
This is the reason we mass our Cannas together


For the back, all we need is taller material that grows up to the waist or higher. Because this garden sits right at the mouth of the driveway a key viewing angle is straight down the long axis; therefore, we placed the lowest material closest to the driveway, with taller plants further away toward the woods. This allows the garden to rise up like the foothills before the mountains when drivers reach the driveway’s end.

(E) Tithonia ‘Red Torch’ is our orange daisy for the summer. This was a popular companion in our Butterfly Garden last year, so we gave the plant room to mound up this year. It delivered generous results.

(C) Abundant Sunflowers are the summer rage right now, pioneered by ‘Sunfinity’. They continue the trend of bringing the classic Sunflower look into a heavy blooming habit.

(B) Canna ‘Cannova Red’ is the leftward anchor that adds a lot of drama. These bright red flowers over bronze foliage catch the light when it hits them at an angle.

Street Garden 05Rolling mounds of Tithonia ‘Red Torch’ next to ‘Suncredible’ Sunflowers


We chose low-growing color to front the garden.

(F) Lantana ‘Lucky Yellow’ wraps the edge of the garden facing the driveway. Often this is an area of tough soil since it collects the roadside dirt, dust, and debris. Lantana always does well here.

(D, G) In the center spread we have ‘SunPatiens Vigorous Tropical Orange’ with vibrant two-toned leaves. It wraps around a contrasting bed of ‘SunPatiens Compact Orange’ with dark green leaves.

(A) Coleus ‘Dipt in Wine’ is a mid-sized Coleus with two tones. A bronze center matches the bronze leaves of the Canna, while the light-colored edge echoes the two-toned leaves of ‘SunPatiens Vigorous Tropical Orange’.

Street Garden 02
A low front bed backed with high plantings


That little flourish with the SunPatiens wasn’t necessary, but we added it for fun and to break up the patterns. ‘Tropical Orange’ and ‘Compact Orange’ have very different personalities. ‘Tropical Orange’ leaves have strong stripes of half lime, half yellow while ‘Compact Orange’ leaves are dark green. Crucially, the same red-orange flower is shared across both plants.

This red-orange bond also happens between the orange flowers of the Tithonia and the red blossoms of the Canna.

LAN Lucky Yellow
Lantana ‘Lucky Yellow’ is a very reliable roadside planting


When you step back and look at the garden you’ll see that we are working only with warm tones in three distinct color ranges:

  • Orange to Red: Tithonia to SunPatiens to Canna 
  • Sunny Yellow: Spilling out from the Sunflowers into the SunPatiens and the Lantana
  • Bronze: Foliage accents in the red Canna and the Coleus

These are the ropes that pull the whole garden into a theme: Warm, Drifting Colors. We keep the colors in the bed simple—all warm—and swirl them around in a loose, organic way so it gels.

Sunflower Canna
Drifts of Cannas and Sunflowers by the road


If you get a chance, stop by the office and take a look at our Garden by the Street. It gets better with each passing day, and it should look good up until the first frosts of October.