MJ – I totally spaced-out and was thinking you were in SoCal!
You can check this link to see several suggestions for sedums. They are mostly hardy and can be planted in zone 5. http://www.hostas.com/succulents/hardy/index-succulents-hardy.html Besides the wide range of colors you have assorted heights. Excellent to use as a lower planting in front of Echinacea.
Here's a link that is also all about colder climate gardening and has some good photos and info on succulents that will work. http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2009/04/10/hardy-where-succulents/
Any color of Coreopsis would be wonderful w/ Echinacea as well.
In the new shot I've attached, you see lavender, russian sage and caryopteris. There is some daylily as well. Echinacea would fit in beautifully.
My initial reaction was, whoa....impressive. I've never seen the orange/clay style retainer. Is that plastic or a clay? What are the little green tufts, are those a variety of chicks and hens? I take it the orange will be poppies? Both are very pretty. I like the use of gravel but here, where we have frost and falling leaves, it becomes an issue of getting the gravel cleaned up so you do not have decomposition and soil making by the organic matter that falls in to it. So I avoid it at all cost, not enough time in my day.
Martha, I like the idea of Echinacea for our area. Excellent idea of the various heights and colors available. I also like the idea of moving plants if you don't like them. That's good.
MJ – thought I'd attach a couple of images you might be able to get inspiration from:
South east side of the home with loam towards clay. It is heavier soil. It receives plenty of sunshine.
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