Plan Your Plantings for All-Season Beauty

Year-round garden beauty takes a little planning and effort.

| April 2009

  • Long perennial border
    BORDER BEAUTY: The Missouri Botanical Garden often plants grasses in their mixed perennial borders to give long-season appeal.
    Caleb Melchior
  • Mums and pulmonaira
    LOVELY DUET OF COLOR: A drift of chrysanthemum ‘Single Peach’ adds autumn color to complement the silver-spotted leaves of pulmonaria at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
    Caleb Melchior
  • Border in late summer
    AMAZING CONTRAST: The long border at the Missouri Botanical Garden demonstrates the amazing potential of mixed borders with dramatic contrasts between bold tropicals and gauzy grasses in late summer.
    Caleb Melchior
  • Midsummer flowerbed
    PLEASING COMBINATION: A pleasing midsummer combination of flowers includes lime-leaved caryopteris ‘Worchester Gold’, silver Artemisia ‘Silver King’ and self-sown spires of violet-blue larkspur.
    Caleb Melchior

  • Long perennial border
  • Mums and pulmonaira
  • Border in late summer
  • Midsummer flowerbed

Many people think season-long garden beauty is an impossible dream. In reality, it’s not impossible at all. It just takes planning and effort.

We’ve all heard so much complaining about our climate here in the central United States that we expect disappointment from the outset of our gardening careers. “Nothing,” you say with a sigh as you sit in the air-conditioned comfort of your living room, fanning yourself with your favorite issue of CAPPER’S, “could tolerate this heat.” And your gardening friends agree. The fuchsias, nemisias and osteospermums and other garden delights seem to prove your complaint. They stopped blooming weeks ago, as soon as the sun began to turn up the heat.

However, despite the climate, you can have a beautiful garden with continual flowering throughout most of the year — even in the Midwest. And you can do it without endless hours of garden work, a millionaire’s pocketbook or a hired staff of 20.

Here are some practices that will make your garden a place of beauty with something interesting to see year-round.

Plant in layers

The more plants you have, the greater the potential for accompanying bloom. Simply planting tons of plants won’t guarantee a pleasing scene, though. Instead, the intelligent way to jam your garden beds with flowers is to plant in layers.

Layered gardens usually incorporate all sorts of plants — small trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs. For example, in the center of a small, partially shaded garden bed, you could plant a native dogwood for spring color. Beneath the dogwood, you could plant clumps of hosta for season-long foliage, bleeding hearts for spring blooms, and perennial begonias for autumn color.



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