Interrupting a planting with a highlight or specimen plant is a clever gardener’s strategy to focus the attention. Imagine an architectural plant such as a yucca, with its wrinkled trunk, spiky foliage, and panicles of bell-shaped flowers, rising from a bed of unassuming and delicate hardy geraniums and drifts of catmint. Similarly spiky specimens include phormiums and red-hot pokers, which can introduce an element of surprise into the most well-modulated border and bring a tropical feel with their exotic appearance.
Vast candelabra of Eryngium pandanifolium which spread to 8ft across or clouds of Crambe cordifolia can be used to punctuate a border like a series of exclamation marks. Grasses make ideal highlight plants in a flowers border, their sharply defined leaves providing a graphic contrast to soft flower shapes. In a big bed, pampas grass can look magnificent. Surrounding it with other plants will hide away any untidy lower leaves.
For a small border try miscanthus. M.sinensis has purply silver flowers while “Zebrinus” has golden cross-banding on its leaves. Grasses also add movement to a border as they ripple in the breeze.
LOOK AT ME!
RIGHT: Red-hot pokers make a bold border statement. The yellow and white species would be more suitable for a restrained color scheme.
MAKING A STATEMENT
OPPOSITE: Two-tone Phormium “Sundowner” stands out from a sea of green composed of sedum, Nicotiana “Lime Green” and clumps of low-growing grasses.