Plants for a Modern Garden

Written by sheri ann richerson Google
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Plants for a Modern Garden
Containers filled with low-maintenance plants are popular in modern gardens. (Flower pot image by Gina Smith from

Modern gardens, sometimes called contemporary gardens, have a clean, neat feel and contain fewer plants. Contemporary gardens are gaining in popularity because they are simple in design, the plants are generally easy to care for and overall the gardens require less water to maintain. Hardscape design elements such as stone, concrete and wood play an important role. Sculpture, water elements and large, architectural plants in containers are also fundamental aspects of a modern garden.

Ornamental Grasses

There are both annual and perennial ornamental grasses. An annual grass grows from seed, flowers, sets seed and dies in one growing season. Annual grasses are excellent choices for container culture or areas where you want a coloured grass, such as black. Perennial grasses come back every year, are generally taller than annual grasses, and depending on variety, do better grown in the ground than in a container. Grasses either spread by rhizomes or form clumps. Grasses that spread by rhizomes tend to be more invasive than those that spread by clumps. Grasses make excellent focal points in the garden and in containers.

Plants for a Modern Garden
Feather plumes on an ornamental grass (very beautiful ornamental vegetation image by JoLin from

Japanese Maple Trees

Japanese maple trees are excellent trees for small gardens or for large containers. They are slow growing, do not take up a lot of room and, like ornamental grasses, make excellent focal points. Full grown, these trees range in height from 12 to 25 feet. Japanese maple trees do best in part shade, although a few varieties will tolerate full sun. The right location and rich, fertile soil that is not dry is essential for these trees to thrive, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension. A layer of mulch around the base of the tree will help retain soil moisture.

Plants for a Modern Garden
Some varieties of Japanese maple trees have lacy, coloured foliage. (Japanese maple image by Kathryn Palmer from


Yuccas are architectural plants with stiff pointed leaves that remain evergreen through the winter. The flowers face down during the day, but move upwards as evening approaches to make pollination easier. Pollination occurs by moths, usually the yucca moth. The flowers are fragrant at night. This is an excellent plant for a night blooming garden, and should be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. There are numerous varieties of yucca to choose from, including variegated forms with white and pink strips on them. Remove the flower stalks once they finish blooming or the plant will set seed.

Plants for a Modern Garden
Yucca flowers add fragrance to the evening garden. (yucca image by photlook from

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