Dwarf Alberta spruce makes a great choice for marking the head of a path or walkway. Here (left side of path) it pairs beautifully with its counterpart across the path, a clump of zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’). Dwarf Alberta spruce will grow in part shade, thriving beneath high canopy trees that deliver filtered sunlight. In cold winter regions, give dwarf Alberta spruce protection from drying winter winds and hot afternoon sun by siting it on an eastern or northern exposure.
Every retreat needs some sort of screen or walls to provide a sense of privacy. If space is at a premium (think deck or balcony retreat), try a living wall planter or vines on a trellis to screen a space without gobbling real estate. A fence, lattice or hedge provides year-round privacy, while plantings may only shelter your retreat during the height of the growing season. This hideaway bench boasts industrial style that’s tucked behind a living screen of joe pye weed (Eutrochium) and tall maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis).
Ornamental grasses can be perennial or annual, depending on where you garden. Tall ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’) is a perennial in Zones 5-9. It forms a fountain-like clump 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide. The fuzzy heads of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) appear in summer atop plants that grow up to 3 feet tall and wide. This grass is tropical, hardy in Zones 9-11. In colder regions, treat it as an annual.