by Bonnie Laughton
Save time and money, Garden automatically with perennials
I have decided to garden automatically with perennials and I have my neighbour Heather to thank for this. I would like a stunning garden each year automatically. Perennial means the plant grows back each year on its own. I have always admired my neighbour Heather’s picture-perfect garden. Who better than her to give me (& you) some insights into perfecting a perennial garden. I stepped into her oasis of a backyard and she had this to share with me. My hope is you enjoy the information as much as I enjoyed the sights and smells she has curated throughout her garden.
From Heather’s garden to yours — We have come up with a fool proof guide to a perfect perennial garden!
Wait for Perennial Plant Sales
- The most cost-effect time to buy perennials is in late summer. While some may have missed the boat this year, wait it out until late August and invest in a perennial garden. When shopping for your perennials remember that plants that prefer shade are under a canopy at the garden centre and ones that like full-on sunshine are typically out in the open or on racks where they can bask in the sunshine. Always look at the tag in the container at the garden centre if you aren’t sure. Also, check how tall the plants get and how far apart to plant them. The tag will typically tell you all that. What the tag doesn’t tell you is to keep the taller plants to the back. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to find a neighbour or friend who is willing to divide some of their plants with you too. Plants need thinning and you could benefit from their
Automate next Spring
- Evening Primrose is an early summer bloomer. Beautiful blooms of summer yellow extend springs pallet and will provide great ground cover with minimal maintenance. Moss Phlox is a low-growing species that works great as ground cover and is one of my favourite spring time bloomers, especially the lavender variety. Bearded Iris are a snap to grow and look sumptuous in a spring garden. Weigela, blooms a deep colour of pink in mid-spring to mid–summer. Grow this easy-care shrub for its cheerful spring bloom. Another great tip is to plant small amounts of annuals in between your early blooming perennials to add some additional colour and fullness. You’ll also save a lot of money!
Summer Perennial and Annual blooms
- Salvia, a midsummer bloomer that looks great as a border and it continues to bloom until autumn. These purple beauties kind of mimic a garden of candle sticks. Day lilies make a great addition to the garden too. Popping their heads out around mid to late June and into July. Daisies, an innocent and simple flower that can carry a bed all alone or can also make great filler. ‘Blue Hill’ Meadow Sage boasts lilac-blue blooms and has a wonderful fragrance. It is a compact sage that works great in bordering plants and containers. Roses blossoms all summer long and adds a traditional element to your garden.
- Rounding the corner and heading into Fall – Sedum, has thick, succulent leaves with clusters of star-shaped flowers. Plant the sedum in summer and by fall it comes into full bloom. Coneflowers are the same and will bloom into fall and are hardy, drought-tolerant, and long blooming. Black-eyed Susan, will pop up in late-summer with their cheery yellow flowers and will bloom for weeks with minimal care.
Native Species vs Invasive Species
- Strive to grow plant species native to Ontario (Bee Balm, Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan) and definitely try to avoid planting invasive species. An invasive species spreads fairly quickly either by seeds or a running root system. Secondly, the root system is near impossible to remove. Any small bit of root left in the soil will grow again.
- Invasive species grow quickly and choke out or crowd out our natural species. Examples of these are trumpet vines, certain forget-me-nots and mint. Grow mint in a container.
Keep in mind
- Try to attract pollinators such as, hummingbirds and honey bees (a species at risk), also a variety of birds and other wildlife (for better or for worse)
- Gardening is great for one’s mental health and well-being. Getting outside in the fresh air and watching plants grow and observing wildlife keeps you present.
I wanted say thanks to my neighbour Heather for all her help and for recommending Fantasy Garden Centre. Another ShopLocal garden centre is the family owned Bulow Gardens at Dorval and QEW. Their staff and prices were awesome!! Because of Heather I now can have an automatic garden using perennials.
Want to learn how to read the plant tags at the garden centre? HomeDepot has a short video to help you know what to look for: http://videos.homedepot.com/detail/videos/lawn-and-garden/video/4048603735001/understanding-plant-tags?autoStart=true