If I Were Planting A Flower Garden…
Back when I worked in garden centers, I loved working with customers as they planned their gardening projects. I really fed off their enthusiasm as we discussed their plans for the space and how they intended to use it: entertaining friends and family, attracting wildlife, enjoying a moment of peaceful solitude. Nearly all of those conversations led, at some point, to me answering the question “What would you do in your yard?”
Some Things To Consider
Perennial flower gardens can be amazingly diverse. Considering climate, sunlight exposure (or lack thereof), soil conditions, moisture, personal preferences and the size of the area in question, gardens can be as individual as the individuals who plant them.
Getting To The Point
Gardeners need a starting point, and there are a few fantastic perennials that fit the bill across wide swaths of the temperate zones of the world. If I were starting a new flower garden these would be my anchor plants:
- Bearded Iris is available in a wide array of colors. The foliage of this mid spring bloomer adds to the texture of the perennial garden long after the flowers have faded.
- Daylily adds color and a “grassy” foliage to the garden in early summer. There are large, dwarf, and even repeat-blooming varieties available.
- Coneflower has a long bloom time from mid summer until fall. Shop for the perfect size and color options as there are seemingly new varieties each year.
- Upright Stonecrop, such as Autumn Joy or Autumn Fire sedum, are at their peak in late summer or fall. Available bloom colors range from white to deep red, while foliage can be deep green, variegated, chartreuse or purple.
- Aster is a fall bloomer that adds a natural look to the garden and provides a good nectar source for garden pollinators.
- Ferns are a must in the shade garden. From dry to moist conditions there is a fern to fit the bill. Some varieties are even evergreen.
- Heuchera adds color with foliage and flower. Spring flower spikes range from almost white to deep pink. Foliage may be chartreuse, purple, orange, green, variegated, or nearly any color and pattern. These low growers are evergreen to semi-evergreen.
- Astilbe brightens the mid to late spring garden with tall flower spikes. Colors range from white to pink, red or purple. The lush, lacy foliage makes a nice filler or structural element.
- Hosta is a summer bloomer that attracts hummingbirds to shade gardens. It’s foliage may be as small as 3×6 inches or more than 12 inches across, depending on the variety. Foliage colors range from deep blue-green, green and white variegated, yellow-green, or chartreuse. Flowers can be white, blue or lavender.
- Hellebore offers a winter flower show that beautifies an otherwise drab landscape. The foliage is evergreen, and in winter the flower shoots emerge to display blooms that may be creamy white, pink, purple, or patterned with multiple colors. The blooms then fade to green and hold on the plant well into spring.
Mix And Match Your Own
These perennial species are a fantastic place to begin the planning process. All of them are rugged performers once established in a well prepared garden bed. Most can be divided and used to increase your own flower garden or shared / traded with other gardeners. They offer nearly endless combinations of options for color, texture and size. When blended together in a, they can provide unceasing flowering with constant visual change throughout the growing season. That’s what I would do if it were me.