Since my priorities have been kids and work, work and kids for many years the minimalist philosophy has served me well in the gardening realms as well. My criteria for what goes into my flower garden are aesthetics and maintenance. In plain terms, do I like it? and will this plant thrive here with minimal encouragement from me?
So, I generally stick with perennials that are hardy in zone 5. Nothing that is going to require more than watering in a drought.
I have this little meditation area that needs some love. I think I will plant purple cone flowers behind the stone bench.