Even though it's hot, humid and pollutants from the cars are around these plants, look at what a cool composition and feel it gives the viewer. These green plantings always give a feeling of freshness and crispness even when we are a bit wilted ourselves! You forget you are in the city amongst skyscrapers and feel you have found a little green oasis.
The designer here used spirea, liriope, crepe myrtles, hostas, ornamental grasses and a few evergreens. None of these are hard to find in gardening nurseries...an added beauty. Plants and shrubs don't have to be rare and exotic to be beautiful.