When Joyce and her husband, Charlie, bought their house, the yard was mainly spindly cedars and overgrown brush. After taking care of much-needed repairs inside, "we started tearing apart the yard," Joyce says. "It looked like a logging operation back there." Surviving trees, bushes, and daylilies were pruned or moved to new spots, clearing the way for two brick patios linked by stone steps—followed by an avalanche of color.
In a mad dash to find the best flower varieties and color combinations, "I drove all over New England," Joyce says. Ultimately she settled down with a nearby nursery, where she loads up her tarp-lined SUV on a regular basis.
Shown: A layered perennial bed on the left starts with mounding 'David's Lavender' phlox and gains height with 'Little Goldstar' black-eyed Susans before rising to near eye level with 'Party Queen' and 'Chicago Rosy' daylilies.