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French-style floral flair

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Close your eyes and think of France ... or just take a gander at Virginia and Richard Mullins’s garden in Seattle. The couple asked designers Madelyn Katzman and Bob Lilly to give them something colorful and French.

And they got it, in a stunning classic style.

This little vista seems more Mediterranean than maritime, with its formal composition, gray gravel, stately urn, and clipped boxwood. And look: It even includes lavender, seemingly whisked from fields in Provence.

The picture is one of balance, perhaps achingly so if it were not for the infusion of bold color brushed like oils on a cool green canvas. The drifts are compact, nicely edited.

And the juxtaposition of height – coneflower up, sedum down, checkerbloom up, hydrangea down – is softly bobbing, not lurching.

And as far as the focal point goes: Doesn’t the verbena – front and center – seem to have that come-hither look? .

NOTE: Creative Combos is an occasional feature focusing on highly effective plant combinations. You can find others in this series herehere, here, and here.

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