Tips for having a beautiful yard during trying times:
1. Use flowers with staying power
There are flowers whose blooms come and go in a day. Then there are flowers that are beautiful and stay a long time.
- Lilies are an example of a flower with staying power. They can bloom for a month in the right conditions.
- Elephant ears are another example of a flower with staying power. They will cover a large area both tall and wide and their beautiful leaves are lasting.
- My favorite flower with staying power is the allium globemaster. It looks good even long after it is dead and brown. It is an expensive bulb around $15 for one bulb. But….it will multiply through the years and produces a large purple ball flower, it needs no staking, the flower lasts for weeks, and best of all since it is part of the allium family (onion), squirrels, bunnies and deer will leave it alone.
2. Plant annuals to fill-in gaps until perennials mature and fill out
To start a basic perennial bed on an unlimited budget one would plant in groups of three or groups of six to look really good. For example, three bleeding hearts, six monarda, six lilies and six autumn joy – at around $6 for potted perennials – can add up fast. So try planting one of each and then fill in the gap with annuals such as cleomes, cosmos, snapdragons and zinnias. The annuals will provide color all summer long when the perennial bloom has come and gone. After 2 -3 seasons, those initial perennials will look as full as if you had planted six.
3. Use seeds and flats of flowers together
A packet of seed is around $2, but a flat is around $20 depending on where you buy it. I love to plant annuals such as cosmos, say 6 of the cosmo plants, then scatter cosmo seeds around. This works great for two reasons. First, when the original cosmo plants have bloomed and gone to seed around July/August, your little seedling will be mature and just starting to bloom. The second strength of this method is the expensive plant will mark where your seeds are.
4. Share with friends
Reach out to friends and share what you have and be gracious and accept divisions, this benefits everyone.
5. Look for sales around the 4th of July
6. Don’t be a store snob
I have found the most amazing perennials and houseplants at the farmers market.
7. Think in terms of 4 seasons
When planting in the spring, think ahead to what your winter landscape will look like, and maybe grab that boxwood for $5 at Home Depot, it won’t be there when you are looking in October and then you might have to pay a higher price at a specialty store. I love to plant trees and shrubs in pots in the spring and then in the fall transfer them into my landscape. I have had great success with this. I have planted limelight hydrangeas, boxwoods, evergreens, arborvitae all in pots. You can enjoy them all summer long while you contemplate where they would look best in your garden.
8. Mix fruit and veggies within your beautiful flower bed – a win/win strategy
Lettuce can be a beautiful border and you can pick a salad every night. Save money on your grocery bill by growing it yourself from seed. Some combinations can really benefit one another. You can tuck tomato plants almost anywhere. Your kids will be giddy when picking them and eating them. This is a great way to get your kids interested and helping in the garden as well. Green beans love climbing and grow very quickly, you could grow green beans up sunflowers or corn. Plant, plant, plant, and don’t be afraid to re-arrange and move plants around.