need advice on redoing bed

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

I have 4 small beds on our front walk '+' I want to redo them all. Because of the slope, one has a wall that's about 2' high. I want to have a few things that hang over, but it can't be real bushy, because of the walks. Do the beds need to match or just tie together? I have blue fescue and variegated monkey grass in all four now, but the rest of the stuff doesnt' go. I do have 3 nice dwarf nandinas that I could use. Plant suggestions are seriously needed!!!! I want a cottage look, but need to have something there in the winter too.
thanks in advance

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

tiG, without seeing the beds and knowing what materials surround them, what the backdrop looks like, how much light these areas get, how big they are, what zone you're in, or what your personal tastes are, I wouldn't hazard a guess on many specific ideas. But I'll try to tackle one of your questions - do they need to match?

Well, if you're going for a cottage style, it's typically an informal style, so no - they don't need to be identical. If the beds are large enough to house several (10+ plants/small shrubs each), I'd encourage you to find a couple plants that you can repeat in each of the beds, and choose other plants based on a color scheme - muted pastels, perhaps. Then you can probably vary the plants in each bed if you want to, just repeat the colors and textures, with a mix of soft and rounded shapes and some spikey things (foxglove, verbascum, salvia) to add some height and interest.

For winter interest, your nandinas would provide color and structure. But you only have three of them, and you have four beds :( Three options come to mind:
1. Buy a fourth nandina
2. Use two of them kitty-corner to one another, and perhaps some standard roses (or another plant trained as a standard) in the other two.
3. Use the nandinas somewhere else and find four other plants/objects to use.

For "other objects", you can find obelisks or other garden objects just about anywhere these days - even the big discount stores have 'em. Those can be great to fill in some blank spots while you're waiting for perennials to "grow up", and they provide structure in the cold months.

Sorry to be so vague, but with some more information, I bet you'll get some good ideas for the beds. And a photo (if you can get one uploaded) would surely inspire some of our wonderful landscapers around here!

Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

tiG I have a huge retaining wall so I'm always looking for things that will spill over the edges. Some plants that I have and are "spilly" are basket of gold alyssum, creeping phlox, perennial candytuft (iberis), snow in summer (cerastium), nepeta, lady's mantle, maiden pinks, thyme, 'moonbeam' coreopsis, and low growing sedums. I like to use petunias to fill in with because they add color all season. 'Homestead Purple' verbena is another great plant for color with that spilly habit. It's an annual for me but it might be perennial in your zone.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Saponaria ocymoides is a lovely tumbler (Tumbling Ted we call it), Veronica prostrata 'Georgia Blue' (can be invasive but easily controlled) and gentians!

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

can't post a picture, okay, mainly because of hmmm....fear!!LOL!! We do have one large nandina about 3' back from one corner, so maybe using the smaller ones in the others will tie it together. They're all sun beds. I do appreciate the plants mentioned, I'll have to watch and trade for those. Can someone explain exactly what a cottage garden would NOT include, if anything? Like the variegated liriope, I just love it, and have some nice clumps, but is that a no-no? It's lovely most of the year, along with my Blue Fescue and Lambs ears. I just want it fuller I think, and I do want to tie them all together, it's the front door and that should be the prettiest.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Roses then - repeat the same ground cover rose in all four beds. Is it possible to have a climbing rose near the front door? Maybe you might want to take a look at the rose forum for suggestions of plants to grow with roses. Baby's breath, hardy geraniums etc.

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

oh kHT, that would really help!!!! Thanks, I look forward to the picture.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Here is a link to a beautiful cottage garden in England - great pics!

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