lasting color Designing a breathtaking flower garden is a lot like conducting a symphony. You mix and match plants just like the notes of a great concerto. There are moments of drama and impact followed by ones of subtle beauty and texture. Strong notes contrast with soft ones. Individual notes seem stark by themselves but together, they create beauty much greater than any of the parts.

It really doesn’t take a maestro to create lasting color in your garden, but designers do have tricks to ensure their gardens look great throughout the growing season.

Establish a color theme and stick to it. This will bring order to what often seems like a chaotic mix of bright colors. Try different flowers in shades of one color or blend complementary colors such as red and violet. For an even stronger impact, mix contrasting colors like yellow and blue or yellow and red. Take clues from the color of your home or hardscape.

Use all kinds of plants. Nurseries and garden centers are full of flowering annuals and perennials, but don’t overlook flowering shrubs and small trees. Landscape roses in particular can form the blooming backbone of your garden. And don’t forget bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Expand the possibilities.

Work the seasons. It’s easy to plan a spring garden. The bigger challenge is to have great color throughout the growing season. Look for summer- and fall-blooming plants, but don’t overlook trees and shrubs with great fall foliage color or brightly colored fruit.

Use a touch of white. White flowers make everything else look better, so add a few if you need extra punch.

Throw in some bold foliage. Strong foliage plants like purple fountain grass, variegated English ivy or dusty miller contribute texture and make your garden even more striking.

Let your garden evolve. Great gardens don’t happen overnight. If a particular plant isn’t working, take it out and try something new.