I am frequently asked, “How do you put it all together?”, meaning how do I design a garden?  There are an infinite number of factors but a large part of it is creating a series of vignettes that work well together.

Color echo of Imperata ‘Red Baron’ and Coleus ‘Henna’ at CBG in 2010


Two years ago, I saw a wonderful vignette at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. It was composed of three plants: Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ (Blood Grass), Coleus ‘Henna’, and parsley. This vignette uses the elements of color echo, variety of heights, and variety of textures. Naturally, all three have the same cultural requirements: sun and regular moisture.

The Imperata grows 12-18” high and spreads slowly into a lovely mass of red and lime upright blades. Its colors are echoed by the bicolor Coleus ‘Henna’ that sports chartreuse foliage with a rosy red edge and underside. Both plants are set off by the sea of crinkly green parsley.

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’


Just recently, I was working on a design where I incorporated the CBG vignette but then varied it a bit.

This time, I used Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’,


Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’







Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’,



Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ in sun



and Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’





Heuchera ‘Pistache’



but I could have substituted Heuchera ‘Pistache’ to bring in more chartreuse.

The Fountain Grass is very colorful and more graceful than Blood Grass. Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’ is pinker than ‘Henna’ and the Heuchera provides the perennial element.

Either vignette lends itself to other vignettes that expand the range of color. If you saw such a vignette this year, think about how you can use it in your garden next year.