Landscape Design for Year Round Interest
Spring has sprung once again and every flower imaginable is blooming. Your local plant nursery has lovingly placed everything from orchids to pansies in a stunning display. By the time you come home your car is loaded to the brim with gorgeous plants, and soon your garden will be in full bloom. Yet, by the time summer rolls around, everything seems to be wilting. What happened!?
The problem of course, is that you purchased plants which thrive all at once and then leave your garden lacking luster come the next season. This is a typical challenge faced by novice landscapers, and it’s something that we make a point NOT to do when The Yard Fairy designs backyards for our landscaping clients.
In this article we’ll look at designing for year round interest, ensuring that your garden is spectacular regardless of the season.
What plants should I buy so that something is always blooming?
At your local nursery, depending on the season, there will always be plants ready to be put into your garden. However, you should know that this doesn’t mean the plants are right for every season. Luckily, there are hundreds of books and websites to look at that offer list upon list of annuals and perennials that grow in all the four seasons. Here is our list covering a few Yard Fairy favorites for spring through winter!
Plants for Spring:
Lavender: Lavender is quite common place in Southern Californian gardens because of its tenacity to thrive and survive. It is both drought tolerant and not picky in terms of soil type. However, it will never grow as dense as a lavender plant in wetter climates such as along the east coast. When first growing lavender plants also expect to lose a few, since they need to adapt to the soil and the weather.
Western Redbud: A dense deciduous shrub or a small tree, this Californian native is quite a sight to behold in the garden. While a mature redbud can grow up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, they rarely grow that large in our arid climate. Bright flowers bloom in early spring before even the first leaves show up. This gorgeous plant prefers partial shade to full sun once planted in the garden.
Sneezeweed: Don’t let the name fool you, the sneezeweed plant is a bright addition to any garden. Looking similar to a black eyed Susan, this flower is perfect for allergists. Sneezeweed needs full sun and is not as drought tolerant as other Californian natives. This perennial can grow up to 4 feet in a dense bush and can live up to five years in a garden. Sneeezeweed is not frost resistant, and therefore should be moved during the winter or you will be replacing yours come the warmer months.
Plants for Summer:
Pincushion Flower: The pincushion flower comes in a wide variety of colors, the one we’ve pictured here just happens to be a red and yellow pincushion. This strange flower likes to be placed out in the full sun and tolerates drought very well. Pincushion will only bloom once through out the year and is considered an annual. The bush itself will grow 2 to 3 feet tall. Its flowers are treasured as cut flowers in exotic bouquets.
Mountain Monardella: This plant produces small purple flowers in a shrub that is less than a foot tall. Being a member of the mint family, Mountain Monardella emits a slight minty scent. It will bloom from summer through and fall. As a Californian native it is drought tolerant and will survive well in the rocky soil.
Deerweed: If you enjoy the sight of butterflies flitting across your garden, then you’ll appreciate the Deerweed plant, which attracts Cabbage White and Painted Lady butterflies in the summertime. This drought tolerant plant is a shrub with yellow-orange flowers which grows 1 to 4 feet off the ground. While deerweed can bloom through out the year, it more often than not blooms in summer.
Plants for Fall:
Crape Myrtle: The Crape Myrtle is a well known tree in Southern California which comes in a wide variety of shades and colors. While it blooms from summer to fall, its leaves do not change color until fall, and this is when the tree looks best. Depending on the variety you select, the crape myrtle can grow up to 25 feet tall. There are also offers varieties disease-resistant varieties.
Black-Eyed Susan: Requiring very little attention, this perennial is a welcome addition to any garden. While Susans will bloom throughout spring into fall, it is not until fall that these flowers show their interesting seed heads. They prefer to grow in full sun and will grow readily in most any type of soil. If you plant these flowers early in the spring, expect buds for fall.
Bush Marigolds: The bush marigold grows along most hills in Southern California, and have probably passed right by it without a second glance. These perennials grow in a bush that reaches 4 to 6 feet high. Marigolds prefer full sun and are impartial to shade; they also attract birds and bees when in bloom. With our warm climate, marigolds start to bloom mid summer and do not drop their buds till the first frosts.
Plants for Winter:
Gaillardia: Often called the blanket flower, this plant blooms in the winter as long as the temperatures do not drop too low and there is little frost. Gaillardia flowers come in warmer colors such as red, yellow, and orange. They grow about 2 to 3 feet and require very little pruning or maintenance. If you’d like this flower to bloom during winter then plan to plant beforehand.
Red Hot Pokers: These interesting flowers will certainly draw attention to your garden. Beautiful and exotic Red Hot Pokers grow with little care once planted, and bloom in both winter and summer time. While there are dwarf varieties, they can be difficult to find. Most varieties reach up to 3 feet in height. These flowers come in colors from bright red to a calmer coral.
Mexican Sage: A type of perennial sage with tall purple flowers and dense foliage. This type of sage can grow 4 to 6 feet high and branch out 3 to 5 feet in diameter. Blossoms begin to show in early fall and last through out the winter. Depending on how much frost there is in the winter, Mexican sage can grow to be larger and thicker. As a Californian native it is drought resistant and impartial to soil type.
Tips for Designing Throughout the Year:
Plant well before the blossoming season is expected so that your tree, shrub, or bush has time to fully settle and start producing flowers for your garden.
Evenly distribute your plants through out each season, so that when one part of your garden is dropping leaves another will start blossoming.
Plan, plan, plan! Haphazardly planting in your garden will result in either too much of one type of season or too little of a season and having nothing to show in say the spring.
Choose a color pallet to work with. Sometimes too many hues can be visual overload. Instead, try different shades of reds or blues or whatever colors you see fit.
Think about evergreen shrubs and trees that might serve as constants in your garden as flowers and leaves change with the seasons, they can serve as a backdrop with which to place spectacular plants.
With our climate in California, you can be a little less cautious about blooming seasons for your plants. A flower which might bloom just in spring in some regions will put on a colorful show for a bit longer here.
Year Round Gardens: Offers tips for every season in your garden.
Plants that Grow Well in California: Quite a detailed and comprehensive list!