When I started gardening I would simply copy the recipes in the gardening books until I got comfortable picking out and creating great combinations myself. They work for me and will work for you.
You are starting with a boring container, see below, but that's not the part that steals the show so worry not. I suggest at least 3-5 of these planters. Remember "strength in numbers". They are light weight, a great size and will weather nicely. Buy it here.
Recipe: Alstroemeria, Gardenia & Lobelia.
You have fragrance, a beautiful glossy green and a heady scent in the gardenia and the Lobelia trailing down the sides of the pot. Don't worry how skimpy it looks when you first plant everything. In a couple weeks it will be filled in and you will be rewarded.
Recipe: Purple Fountain Grass, Fushias, Coleus, Asiatic Dwarf and Oriental Lillies.
You get the wispy grass, the intense colors of the other plants and the fragrance of the Lillies. Pot found here.
Recipe: Geraniums, Lobelia, Hebe & Potato Vine
There is room for 2-3 Geraniums in this container, the Potato Vine will be vibrant and beautiful trailing down the pot and the Hebe adds some steady interest. Purchase the pot here.
Recipe: Verbena, Petunia, Maiden Grass & Scented Geranium
I am partial to bold hot colors but the good news is that the flowers come in a handful of colors. And the scented geraniums are over-the-top. You will love this combination!
The great thing about this container is that it brings all the beauty up so that you can actually see it and enjoy it. This container is easy to assemble. Buy it here.
Make sure you have good potting soil and fertilizer. Enjoy your fabulous outdoor space!