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Longfield Gardens Blog

How to Plan for a More Colorful Flower Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Feb 2, 2016

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Like most flowers gardens, yours probably looks its best in June. That’s peak bloom time for classics like peonies, bearded iris, Asiatic lilies, clematis, campanulas, baptisia and delphiniums.

As summer progresses, we all struggle to maintain that same intensity of flower power. Continuous color is what we want! As you think about the coming gardening season, here are 6 ways to keep the color going strong.

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Choose Plants With Different Bloom Times

Most people shop for perennials in May or early June. By and large, the plants that get purchased are the ones that are in bud or already flowering. This means most gardens are filled with early summer bloomers. If you want color in mid to late summer, make sure to include rudbeckia, sedums, helenium, asters and ornamental grasses.

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Mix Annuals with Perennials

Most perennials bloom at a certain time during the season – peonies in May, delphiniums in June, phlox in July. On the other hand, annuals bloom continously so they guarantee many months of color. Not all annuals are suitable for perennial gardens (petunias and marigolds for example), but of them many are. Good choices include heliotrope, nicotiana, verbena, annual poppies, salvia and cleome.

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Focus on Foliage

Decorative leaves can be just as ornamental as flowers. The tropical foliage of summer bulbs such as canna lilies, caladiums and calla lilies add pizazz to perennial gardens. Hostas, heucheras and ajuga can keep both gardens and containers looking lush and colorful. Ornamental grasses add movement as well as texture and color. And don’t forget about coleus. They’re as effective in perennial gardens as they are in pots and planters.

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Add Shrubs For Four-Season Interest

Shrubs add structure to flower gardens and can also offer an ever-changing display of flowers, berries and interesting foliage textures and colors. Good perennial garden companions include dwarf azaleas and lilacs for spring; buddleias, clethera and shrub roses for summer; fothergilla, hydrangeas and Japanese maples for fall, and winterberry, Siberian dogwood and witchhazel for winter interest.

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Plant Bulbs to Stretch the Seasons

Adding crocus, daffodils, tulips, muscari and other spring-flowering bulbs to your garden will give you color starting in March rather than May. Plan to continue the show right through October by planting summer-blooming bulbs such as dahlias, caladiums, cannas, elephant ears and eucomis. These heat lovers thrive in summer heat and bloom right through early fall.

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Snip, Trim and Deadhead — It Works!

As you’re walking through your garden, keep a pair of scissors or a small hand pruner at the ready. Though some seedheads are attractive (like the alliums shown above) for the most part, it’s best to remove spent flowers. This encourages annuals to set new flower buds and perennials such as achillea, campanula, dianthus and phlox will often bloom again. Trimming back unruly foliage keeps gardens looking tidier. For some perennials, including nepeta, lady’s mantle, perennial geraniums and coreopsis, a mid-season haircut will stimulate a fresh flush of foliage. 

On our website you’ll find a broad selection of spring-flowering bulbs, summer-flowering bulbs and perennials as well as free gardening information, such as: 10 Easy Perennials for Sunny Gardens, 10 Easy Perennials for Shady Gardens, How to Design a Fragrant Garden, and How to Plan a Spring Bulb Garden.

Topics: Garden Design Spring Blooming Bulbs Summer Blooming Bulbs Summer Blooming Flowers

Kathleen LaLiberte has been writing about gardening for more than 30 years from her home in northern Vermont, where she tends a half acre of flowers, vegetables and fruit. She has been working with Longfield Gardens since 2011.

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