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Central Midwest Gardening: Gardening Thru the Seasons

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Planting for flowers, fragrance, food—and for the birds—keeps Midwest gardens interesting through the changing seasons.

Lettuce and violas bring color to early spring.

By Marty Ross

It has been a great year in my garden. The summer’s heat and drought were distressing, and the water bills were high, but cool weather and rain in the fall revived the garden. The roses came back into their glorious autumnal bloom. Every year is different, and every season has its challenges. Here’s a look at some things I learned in my garden this past year:

The season of promise and surprises brought daffodils into bloom on the first of March in Kansas City, a good two weeks earlier than usual. We had a glorious spring. I planted lettuce in pots as soon as transplants were available. Violas and annual dianthus overwintered in planter boxes on my porch. I’m determined to continue to plant more cool-season annuals to get my garden off to an early start every year.

Community gardening grows on you

This year I joined some friends and signed up for a community garden plot. By June the zinnias we planted from seed were blooming, and the tomatoes (started with transplants) were roaring along. Our small, raised-bed plots, only 4x12 feet, have been amazingly productive and a lot of fun. Community gardening is a great way to get started as a vegetable gardener—we all learn together.

Annual cosmos bloom until frost.

Late summer’s blistering heat and enduring drought finally came to an end on September 1: We had 5 inches of rain that weekend, and the season of monarch butterflies and brilliant fall colors commenced. Asters bloomed a little later than usual but then lasted well into November. Summer’s last shimmering pink cosmos made a spectacular bouquet at the end of October. I am convinced that October roses are the most beautiful of all. This fall, once again I discovered that my garden is full of resilient plants.

Chinese witch hazel dappled January with bright blooms.

My winter garden is full of birds: I bundle up to keep my bird feeders stocked, and after I fill the feeders I often take a quick walk through the garden. Chinese witch hazel blooms in January; the flowers, like clusters of ribbons, rich yellow with a touch of red at the base, last for a month, even through bitter cold. On sunny days witch hazel’s fragrance seems to fill the garden. It may be too cold for me to linger, but I’m glad of the excuse to be outside: Spring is coming.

See more articles for the Midwest region.