While bedding plants are primarily chosen as color elements in the garden, it is worthwhile remembering that they possess other characteristics that inevitably affect, positively or negatively, the overall nature of the design. One cannot ignore their foliage texture and color, or their size, shape and form.
Bedding plants are rarely grown in isolation from other plant types, but rather, in association with them, such as in the foreground to shrubs, bushes and trees. If the latter are so chosen as to form a definite and clear motif, then the bedding plants ought to complement them in stylistic terms.
Junipers are one such important plant type that if planted in groups create a definite mood in the garden. How then can one choose bedding plants, whether annuals or herbaceous perennials, so that they strengthen the composition established by the Junipers and not detract from it?
Junipers, as conifers belonging to the cypress family, establish a clear Mediterranean feel to the garden. The bedding plants that associate with them most effectively are those that possess small flowers and leaves that are narrow and often or not pale green or bluish-grey in color. Many plants belonging to the daisy family (Asteraceae) fit the bill perfectly. Examples include, Gazania, Arctotis, Santolina, Osteospermum and Asteriscus. Ice plants such as Lampranthus or Drosanthemum, if planted on mass as ground covers, can create a stunning combination with different varieties of Juniper.
A bed of herbs, planted close to, and in visual contact with a group of Junipers is a feature worth considering. Most herbs; oregano, thyme, sage etc, are of Mediterranean origin and so go together splendidly. Herbaceous plants of contrasting foliage color are a further possibility, providing the leaf size and texture is reasonably fine. The purple-leaved varieties of Joyweed (Alternanthera) for instance, contrast spectacularly with the glaucous foliage of many Junipers.
Designing with plants is very much a case of knowing what not to include in the garden composition. Just as palm trees look totally incongruous with junipers, so do bedding plants of tropical origin appear out of place. Plants like Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) or Canna, spectacular as they may be, simply do not go with them. Roses from my experience do not sit comfortably near Junipers either, but can be acceptable in visual contact with them, if planted in a separate bed. I also have my doubts about the suitability of planting ornamental grasses with junipers, although this may simply be a matter of personal taste on my part.