By Jodi Torpey
I knew I finally made it as a gardener when something always bloomed from late winter into fall. It’s a lively gardener’s challenge to create a bright and beautiful landscape that’s in flower for as many frost-free days as possible.
One secret to continuous color is to think landscape layers. Start with a leafy, green backdrop for flowers by planting small trees, flowering shrubs and vase-shape vines behind them.
The second layer includes perennials with tall flower stalks, as well as clumps of ornamental grasses and colorful foliage plants. The bottom layer features smaller flowering plants, annuals with long bloom times, and an assortment of bulbs.
It takes a little planning to have a succession of blooms in the Mountain region. Here’s how to get started:
Think Spring in Fall
This fall plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as crocuses and snowdrops, so flowers show up as early as February.
Plan for Summer Color
When shopping for plants, read the tags and descriptions. Look for a range of average bloom times, and the different plant sizes when each is in bloom. Be sure to plant mid- to late- summer bloomers: daylilies, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, dahlias, coreopsis, salvias and daisies.
Fill specific spots with the colors that show up and show off against the planted background.
Add Colorful Foliage
Foliage plants add color and texture to the blooming garden. Mix light and dark foliage colors in a range of sizes to fill spaces between flowers and to add interest when flowers just start to bloom.
Choose Long-lasting Flowers
Some perennials are known for their long seasons of flowers. One of my favorites is a brown-eyed Susan called Rudbeckia trifolia. The flowers start in midsummer and last into fall. Many varieties of penstemon, yarrow (Achillea spp.) and blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) are also known for their blooming power.
Discover strategies to keep a garden blooming spring through fall (and sometimes even winter!).Learn More