Think of the plants in this fairly complex garden bed as the musicians in an orchestra: Each plays an integral part in a season-long performance of color and texture. Sometimes one player comes to the front, while another waits for a turn in later months.
Shrubs, such as this berberis, sustain their burgundy leaves all season and ground the other flowers with a deep base that complements the lighter tones.
Silver foliage, such as artemisia, lavender, or globe thistle, paired with dark Japanese maple, smoke bush, black elderberry, and physocarpus
Don't be wary of incorporating some well-behaved vines, such as clematis, to weave in and out of the other plants. They add a bright focal point in the upper part of the garden.
Large-flowered clematis or daintier hybrids and species such as Clematis alpina, C. viticella, and C. texensis
Place airy plants, such as meadow rue, in both the middle and front of the beds to fill them out with delicate color and establish a sense of height that won't overpower the neighboring species.
Bugbane, filipendula, lavatera, aruncus, and Russian sage
For more garden inspiration, read about Bill Noble's Vermont country garden.