Darkness is a must in any garden.
Without the visual weight from plants such as this Rogerseria, a garden not only lacks depth but feels to me like it might float away. The Rogerseria adds weight not only by color, but by habit. Its leaves are stiff and crenulated, making a great contrast with the willowy daylilies and ornamental grasses nearby.
Control of dark elements is something of an art, though. This Smokebush, for example, dominates its corner of the long bed along the fence and is eager to get out of control. Fortunately, it’s a plant that responds well to being cut back severely. Cutting it back means you lose the characteristic puffy blooms that year, but you gain the fresh, deeply colored leaves of the new growth and a more manageable size. Mostly a win, in my opinion.
I also use groundcovers to create darkness, voids that swallow light and create contrast for the more airy plants. I’ve repeated the ajuga “Ruby Glow” in several spots along the fence bed to create low spots that snag the eye with light grabbing color.
And of course many flowers, both perennial and annual, will provide that needed punch of saturated color.
These lobelia are long-flowering, strikingly upright, and don’t take up a lot of space. Plants that combines visual punch with compact size is an asset in a mature garden where space is at a premium . Sometimes, creating an air of mystery is the best thing about gardening.