After many years of gardening as a hobby, I have learned that simpler is more beautiful. I've admired plenty of colorfully packed flower gardens in Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens.
While in the past I've tried to replicate the perennial and annual flower beds that grace the pages of those magazines and many others, I find by the end of the season they are a bedraggled mess and never really grow together the way they should. You see, I have a job as a writer, PR consultant, blogger, homeschool teacher, mom, and wife and all the extra duties that come with those titles. While my intentions are good (and I truly love gardening), I never have enough time to create the master gardener look, which takes plenty of weeding, moving around flowers, and filling in bare spots continuously throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
I have refused to give up the dream, so through experimentation I've come to realize the most wonderful gardens can be a profusion of just a few colors from a few, trusted, hardy plants. Not including the perennials I have as "foundation" plants in my garden beds, each year I rely on the addition of a few annuals and perennials to fill in the bare spots and make my gardens look like I've spent lots of time on them. In fact, my time is mostly spent at my keyboard or driving to swim team or housecleaning.
Each year, I rely on a formula for the four cast iron urns on top of pillars surrounding my patio.
Planting pots of annuals here and there around the patio and to fill bare spots in my perennial beds works wonders to pull the entire look together. Just two or three plants used throughout the garden make as big a statement as a hodgepodge of plants that may or may not be acclimated to the area.
My tried and true include:
I use these plants over and over each year. Since I have narrowed down the types of flowers I consistently use, I am happy with the results throughout our three warm seasons. I can focus my attention on the other tasks and people that need me (and on sitting by the pool).