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Posted on January 17, 2022 in Garden Gab
So often I have customers come in and say to me, I want a flower that blooms all growing season and comes back year after year. Sadly, I must inform them that in reality no such flower exists. “Why?” they ask. And the simple answer is every living thing needs to rest or it will die.
Not many people think of plants as living and breathing beings. But they are and do. Like you and me, they need to rest, or they will collapse and die. So where does that leave those of us who want low maintenance gardens with continual color that return year after year? We have a few options.
Annuals bloom the entire growing season. But a lot of the plant’s energy goes into blooming so these plants are short lived. Perennials normally bloom 4-6 weeks with a few exceptions but then they conserve their energy and slowly go into a rest period. Because of their short blooming period and their ability to rest longer, they can come back year after year as long as our winters aren’t too cold or too dry.
So back to the question of what can I plant that will bloom all growing season and come back year after year? How do we create this illusion of continual color? Well, you could just plant annuals. Many of the annuals we sell will bloom all season long. That of course is a lot of work. Replanting your flower beds year after year. Some years this isn’t a problem but some years it can be a race to get things planted in the short amount of free time you have.
Or you could plant all perennials. I’m sure you are thinking, you just told us they won’t bloom our entire growing season. This is true. But that is where planting by bloom time comes into play. This takes some planning. Think of it as a color by number painting. You plant each section to bloom during different times of the growing season. Giving the illusion of season long color. There are a few perennials that bloom from May or June to August or September so they should be the focal point of your garden. Any other plants that bloom early spring or late fall should be planted as accent plants.
This might leave you with one more question, what do I do? I plant a combination of annuals and perennials. Every one of my gardens has what I like to call backdrop plants. These are usually a combination of flowering shrubs and perennials. They give year-round structure or interest to my gardens. Occasionally one or two won’t survive our winter and I will have to replant them. But the main section of my garden is low maintenance and comes back year after year. But to add continuous color in each garden, I either create pockets of annuals, or maybe even an annual border. That way I don’t have to replant everything, but I always have color.
Whatever option you choose, continuous color in your garden isn’t just a dream and January is a great time for planning.
Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with the dream” Josephine Neuse.