Planning a 3 season border

phabAugust 31, 2013

I have a narrow border on either side of my lower deck stairs to the garden. Right now it is perfusion of purple cone flowers, black eyed Susan's. autumn joy and some established chrysanthemums are breaking through. This is a very pleasing look from late July through October. But that same area looks weedy and overgrown from spring through mid July. Any ideas to start it lovely in the spring. I thought of tulips. But that is only a couple weeks. What can I have looking stunning May through July in the same area to keep it from looking weedy and unkempt.
Thanks,
P

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alison(6b/OH)

Funny -- I thought I had already posted some suggestions. Hmmm.

It's hard to get a small bed continually packed with blooms. thery're aren't many plants that really bloom all season long, and the ones that do are kinda boring.

I think the first thing to do is set up some structural interest. It could be some hardscaping, like a birdbath or a tutuer, or a plant that will have some heft to it all season like -- says a dwarf Japanese maple, or a rose of sharon trained as a small tree, or even irises, which have a strong shape even after the flowers are gone. (The autumn joy sedum is another good one.) Like the 'bones' of the garden bed.

Plan for foliage that will look good all season long. Get a mix of textures, shapes, heights and colors. Variegated plants give some of the power of flowers, but are much longer lasting. Foliage is the base, or the background of the bed. It sets off the flowers like jewels -- so you don't need quite as many to have an impact.

And plan to layer the flowers, so you don't have obvious "dead" spots. I like to try and have things take over for each other. For example, in one corner I have early tulips, resurrection lilies and a peony bush all together. As the tulips start to fade, the resurrection foliage provides a lot of green. As that starts to fade, the peonies come up. After the flowers fade, the plant priveds a bit of structure and a nice solid green presence. Then mid-to-late summer, the resurrection lilies stick their stalks up thru the peony and it's as tho' it's blooming again.

Another spring to summer combination I like is snowdrops, crocuses and grape hyacinths sprinked thru ajuga. As the foliage of the spring bulbs starts to fade, the ajuga begins to bloom, and grabs the attention. After the flowers go, the ajuga remains a nice green carpet that doesn't get discouraged when the summer plants get big and overshadow it.

It's a tough challenge, and I know I'm still working on it -- I'd love to see what you develop!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 1:10PM
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georgeneschreiner(5a)

I would go with bulbs in the spring�"tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths. Then a few irises and daylilies with heuchera planted in front. That way you have foliage that is colorful, even when the flowers are finished.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:45PM
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georgeneschreiner(5a)

I would go with bulbs in the spring �" tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths. Then a few irises and daylilies with heuchera planted in front. That way you have foliage that is colorful, even when the flowers are finished.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:46PM
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