This fiery layered border in Seattle, WA (zone 8) is a four season wonder full of steal-me ideas. Anchored by group of conifer shrubs that stay lush and green year round, its filled with all sorts of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and perennials that keep the show going from season to season. Ferns, grasses, and coral bells kick off spring along with the new tender foliage of Japanese maples and birch trees. As the season progresses, shades of green bring a cooling effect. In October foliage morphs into brilliant hot hues glowing in the softer, slanting rays of the fall sun. Even the holly shrubs get into the act sporting clusters of deep-red berries. By winter, bare branches and showy bark act as a placeholder, just waiting for the spectacle to start again in spring.
You can do this…start with a few plants for structure (like the Japanese maple, here) and layer in shrubs that do different things in different seasons.