Magazine article Sunset

The Ultimate Spring Garden

Magazine article Sunset

The Ultimate Spring Garden

Article excerpt

Sheri Workman's plantings are works of art. Here's how she combines roses, perennials, and annuals for spectacular beds and borders

How do you turn a typical suburban yard-mostly lawn with narrow flower beds around the edges-into the star of a popular spring garden tour? Sheri Workman of Fountain Valley California, has the answers. And the results, shown here, are an encyclopedia of ideas for novice and experienced gardeners alike.

1. Give yourself room to create and run wfld

By tripling the 3-foot depth of planting beds at the perimeter of the property, Workman gained room to replace a single row of shrubs and a small ruffle of bedding plants with climbing and shrub roses, lots of perennials, blocks of tall and short annuals, and a fringe of handsome foliage plants. The bigger canvas also gave her room to paint broader strokes and experiment with more complex color harmonies. "Visitors to the garden come around the corner and gasp," she says.

2. Give the garden structure

Shrub roses such as `Graham Thomas' and `Mutabilis' are the backbone of Workman's bigger, better border. "Nothing provides more flowers over a longer period than roses," Workman says. "That's why they were my starting point." Most of them are planted across the middle of the border, close enough to snip stems for bouquets but far enough back to leave space in front for lower-growing perennials and annuals.

Between the shrub roses and the property line grow tall flowering shrubs such as Salvia guaranitica and climbing roses such as `Sombreuil'. For most of the year, flowers completely camouflage a block wall behind the border.

Workman deliberately leaves blocks of the border empty for showy annuals. Tall exclamation points such as delphiniums are planted near the back, with "fluffy stuff" like linaria and Virginian stock (Malcolmia maritima) placed closer toward the front. In late summer, dahlias and sunflowers replace the delphiniums.

3. Choose core colors, then play around

Though the beds and borders include every shade in the rainbow, the basic colors are pink and blue. Most of the pink comes from the roses, but perennials such as alstroemeria, Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber, also called red valerian), and rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) contribute. In late spring and early summer, delphiniums provide most of the blue. Summer through fall, salvias take over.

Workman also uses a lot of red-violet, a blend of her two major colors. Exampies are `Polish Spirit' clematis and purple verbena. …

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