Many clients I speak to each day will indicate a desire for a no maintenance or low maintenance landscape. They want a low maintenance design with lots of perennials, no annuals (they don’t want the fuss every year), and they want color all season long. Let’s back up a bit and do some explaining.
A No Maintenance Landscape
Not possible. The landscape is a living, ever-changing combination of plants with different needs, on different schedules. We do our best to pair your design with your level of commitment to landscape management. But, we can only do so much. Nature will have her way. But we recognize that some plants are more self-maintaining than others.
I Want Lots of Perennials
This is a recipe for a high maintenance garden. Perennials generally have a short bloom time. Once the blossoms fade they require deadheading or trimming of the spent blossoms before they go to seed. Allowing the spent stem and flower to remain and turn brown detracts from everything good going on in the landscape. Further, every few years those perennials will crowd themselves out, lack their original showy display, and need to be divided. Weed control is a must in a perennial garden. With careful planning, it is possible to have a continuous sequence of blooms that bloom for a brief time, but having long-blooming perennials in the mix will make it easier
Long- Blooming Perennials
Some perennials are easier and longer blooming that others and well worth the work. Here are some tried and true examples to consider for the color you crave.
- Shasta Daisy – cheery, classic, and a tough plant; long blooming and hardy.
- Perennial Salvia – not to be confused with the annual varieties. ‘Blue Hill’, ‘May Night’ and ‘Caradonna’ are cold-hardy and fill bloom all summer if deadheaded regularly.
- Russian Sage – a tall plant with rather small blossoms. But what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. Showy display.
- Yarrow – in bright red ‘Paprika’ cultivar or the more familiar yellow.
- Lavender – valued for its scent and use in sachets, potpourris, dried arrangements, etc.
- Coneflower – in the daisy family, the coneflower tolerates poor soils and is drought-tolerant. Their large, daisy-like flowers appear from midsummer thru fall, after many other perennials have finished blooming. They attract butterflies and birds with their showy, bright pink, purple, red orange, or white blossoms.
- Moonbeam Coreopsis bushy growth habit, thread-like foliage, and long-blooming brightly colored flowers.
- Black-Eyed Susan – it is easy to underrate this popular, long-blooming perennial simply because it is so common. It is popular because it blooms all summer, fills the bed with cheerful color, and requires minimal care.
- Autumn Joy Sedum – flowers are massed together in flower heads that are 3 inches or more across. The flowers of this long-blooming perennial can be yellow, orange, red, or pink, most valued for the autumn interest it provides
- Catmint Plants – Showy periwinkle blue flower spikes on fragrant mounds of gray-green foliage. Excellent for cascading off walls or container edges and as groundcover that is somewhat drought resistant with time. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
- Speedwell – Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’, which bears blue flower spikes is a compact plant that works well in the front of a bed
No Annuals – And I Want Color All Season Long
Color all season long is the very definition of what an annual bed provides – continuous colorful blooms until the first hard frost. Annuals are a must-have in any landscape. The simplest way to add annuals is in containers. Place them strategically to welcome you home, welcome guests to your home, and to add seasonal color in your favorite part of the yard. Change them with the season for a continuous fresh look all year long. It’s a snap to highlight your favorite holidays with simple additions and manipulations of your container gardens.
For color all summer long, you can’t beat hardworking annuals. But if you must have spectacular pops of colorful changing through the season, begin your design with some of the long-blooming perennial varieties mentioned here. You may have to commit to a bit of gardening now and again. Be careful, it may become a passion.
If you didn’t grow up gardening or with gardens around you, you have missed one of the best reasons for getting outside on a beautiful day.