Starting from the left, here’s what is planted in it. Those lighter colored mounds at far left are ‘Silver Mound’ artemisia, a softly textured foliage plant. They only grow about a foot across and 10 inches tall, but they brighten up the plants around them and have a wonderful texture. This is a plant you just want to touch. Next to that, on the street side of the bed, are three ‘Maestro’ sedum. I love the Autumn Joy sedum in my other front garden, and wanted to try one of the darker colored sedums. This plant has wider leaves than Autumn Joy and a dark blue-purple-green foliage. Late in the summer it should have pink, then darker purple blooms that remain all winter.
Also on the street side are three prairie dropseed grasses (Spororbolus heterolepsis). These are a compact grass known for its cilantro-like fragrance later in the season. Anchoring the corner of the bed are three black chokeberry bushes. These are a native shrub that grows 3 to 5 feet tall and offers year-long looks as well as food for birds. It currently has a pretty white flower, which will later turn to a dark blue berry that birds love (apparently, people can eat them, too, though I have heard they need lots of sugar). In fall, the leaves turn a red purple that is stunning. This variety is called ‘Autumn Magic’.
Going up the side of the bed, above the shrubs, are five Russian sage plants. We were very dry part of last summer, and I noticed that Russian sage was about the only perennial that looked good all year. It has airy foliage and purple blooms. Next to the sage is a drift of five white garden phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’). Nestled behind the sedum near the phlox are 5 blazing star (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’). This is another native plant, with showy, bottle-brush blooms in a dark lavender. It is supposed to attract butterflies and even hummingbirds. Finally, toward the middle of the bed, is a single purple salvia. This is the only “onesie” in the bed, and it’s already in bloom.
The one and a half inches of rain we had over the past two days will really help the bed get established.
Update from 2018: This garden grew to be one of the stand-out features of my Northfield garden. Here’s a photo from September 2015.