Here are a few of my favorite more formal, landscaped front gardens on Beacon and Marlborough Streets. A central urn is a great way to give a focal point and some height to a garden; these four gardens put their urns to good use.
The first garden's urn sits on top of its fountain. A few years ago, this garden had bright-green fake grass instead of mulch and plantings around that fountain. It was such a disappointment; a near-miss. With the fakery removed, I think it's probably the most appealing garden in all of Back Bay with lush, mature plantings, pale flowers, and the fountain's gentle music.
The garden below has orange begonias in its urn, which are complemented by matching orange blooms in the parlor window boxes. This garden is densely packed with manicured shrubbery and a tree, a big patch of lavender in the center, and fuchsias along the back. I always prefer formality gone wild to a garden that looks rigid and buttoned up.
Here's an all-white garden with loads of rosebushes and a small, raised black urn you can spot in the center, among that riot of roses. I like all-white gardens in theory but it would probably bore me to have one. I'm happy to admire someone else's, though.
Finally, a knockout garden with a lively mix of textures and colors in an otherwise very formal layout of quadrants separated by stone pavers. The central urn is overflowing with everything from ferns to hydrangea, plus that tall green plant sticking up at the top. I'll bet that bench is seldom used, if at all, and that's too bad.
I find that it's hard to get clear photographs of these very busy small spaces; it's best to go for a walk and admire them in person. June is a terrific month to enjoy Back Bay's gardens.