Color Up Front

Here's a garden you just can't miss.
Steve Bender

It's an unwritten rule worth breaking. You know, the one that says you must plant nothing but grass between the sidewalk and curb. Well, Elizabeth and Tim Beeton ignored that rule, and look what happened. A series of small curbside beds in front of their Galveston, Texas, home replaced humdrum grass with colorful blooms and foliage.

Attention-Getters
Don't think the neighbors haven't noticed. "The flowerbeds attract a lot of attention because of the color and variety," says Elizabeth. Unlike many gardens in Galveston that depend largely on semitropical plants, theirs mixes temperate annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs to create more of an English look.

Roses anchor each of the three beds, surrounded by perennials and seasonal annuals. In early summer, the plantings include geraniums, impatiens, and four o'clocks. Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), an artichoke relative, enlivens the scene with its spiky, silvery foliage.

Perfume the Air
The garden offers more than color. Many of the plants, including roses, four o'clocks, and night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), boast fragrant flowers that reward visitors with sweet perfume. "We get a lot of people passing by on foot and bicycles who appreciate the fragrance," Elizabeth says.

Not all communities allow gardening by the street; some mandate a uniform look instead. But if yours permits a little individuality, consider doing something like this. Who needs to look at more grass?

Sweeten Your Street
Try some of these other fragrant flowers for curbside gardens. To learn what plant zone you are in, see the map.

'Black Beauty': raspberry red
bearded iris: US, MS, LS, and CS
common ginger (Hedychium coronarium): MS, LS, CS, and TS
'Radicans' dwarf common gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans': LS, CS, and TS
Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum): All South
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): US and MS
hybrid crinum: MS (most types), LS, CS, and TS
pink (Dianthus sp.): US, MS, LS, and CS
petunia: All South

US=Upper South, MS=Middle South, LS=Lower South, CS=Coastal South, and TS=Tropical South

"Color Up Front" is from the June 2006 issue of Southern Living.