Sample garden design: sun ornamental garden

If a full–sun plant is growing slowly or not developing flowers every year, it may not be getting enough direct sunlight. Consider relocating this plant and replacing it with a part–sun selection. Observe the movement and pattern of shadows over a day around your garden at least once a month so you know what kind of light each garden space is getting. This will help you select the right plants so that they thrive where you plant them and don’t have to be moved.

Plants used in this design

Spring interest

  • Aubrieta deltoidea, rock cress
  • Primula denticulata, drumstick primrose
  • Scabiosa species, pincushion flower
  • Gaillardia species, blanket flower
  • Malus spp., crabapple
  • Thymus pseudolanuginosus, wooly thyme

Summer interest

  • Acanthus mollis, bear’s breeches
  • Lavandula species, lavender
  • Crocosmia species, montbretia
  • Ligularia species, leopard plant
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian sage
  • Stokesia laevis, Stokes aster

Fall interest

  • Sedum species, autumn stonecrop
  • Calamagrostis species, reed grass (can be invasive)
  • Sedum spurium ‘Fuldaglut’, dragon’s blood stonecrop


At least six hours of direct sunlight.


To help your soil hold moisture and decrease watering needs, add 5 centimetres (2 inches) of organic material (e.g. compost, manure, leaf mold) every couple of years. This will also provide a constant supply of nutrients, eliminating the need to fertilize, and will quicken plant growth.


For the first few weeks after your new garden is planted, check to see if the soil is wet to a depth of at least 2.5 centimetres (1 inch), even if it rains, and water as needed. Watering of new plants may be needed until the roots are well established (one to two seasons). Mulch will help increase moisture retention for long periods of time. Add 5-10 centimetres (2-4 inches) of mulch every two to four years to help reduce watering needs throughout the summer.

2 MBPrinter-friendly: Sun-ornamental-garden