By Kathy Ray
It’s a dreary, rainy day and I couldn’t be happier than to allow my mind to wander and put my visions to paper about flowers. I LOVE FLOWERS!! Yes, all in capital letters and a two exclamation points kind of love.
I grew up with a mom who could grow anything. The conditions were never right, the plants defied the weather, and what should have been an annual flower, became a perennial in her garden. Like most things, her ability was lost on me until much later in life. I honestly have to believe that the magnificent beauty she grew came from her love of the plant, more than anything else. So, let’s start with what you love when it comes to flowers.
Now is the perfect time to take stock of what you want when spring rolls into our neck of the woods. Unfortunately, if you didn’t already plant spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips, you missed your chance until next fall. However, soon following those show-stoppers, come summer blooms. Let’s get thinking.
First, you must decide what you wish to accomplish. Do you want a certain color? Do you want to plant flowers that will come back next year without replanting? Does your garden get sun or shade throughout the day?
Let’s start with color. If you are someone who enjoys a plethora of colors, then your work is relatively easy. Pick, plant, and enjoy! Let’s say you want to choose a specific color and you want some to come back next year and others you want to replace. Now the decision making gets more challenging.
In a case like this, I would recommend choosing perennials first for the larger areas of your landscape beds. What is a perennial? That is a plant that once planted will return for many years to come, all on its own. When reading the little tag on the plant, make sure it is recommended for zones 5-6, if you are in northeast Ohio. A few good examples of common perennials for our zone are roses, peonies, and daylilies. These flowers can be a good base to start with for your flower garden.
Color is strictly a personal choice. You can choose many varieties or stay with one. Some like to see all the same color and variety. Me? I love to mix it up. Here’s the fun about flower planting – there are no rules. Now, I’m sure you can head to the neighborhood garden center and be inundated with rules. Trust me. Sun vs shade and dry soil vs moist mixed together with your love = beauty.
One thing to keep in mind with perennials, they are most likely going to spread. Since you are not pulling out the spent plants in the fall, they will multiply. Pruning, transplanting or removing will be necessary. One thing that works fairly well is planting in pots. Cut the bottom off of a plastic pot and put the entire pot in the ground. You will want to plant it deep enough so it is out of sight.
A little research about the plant you are interested in will save you the added aggravation when later you discover your favorite flower has become an invasive monster. Digging out the entire plant is the only answer once a plant takes over a landscape bed.
Once you get the perennials in place, fill in with annuals. These are flowers that are going to give you great beauty and enjoyment for one season only. Unless, of course, you are like my mom, and the annuals show back up the next year, even after you vigorously removed them in the fall.
The good thing about an annual is you have to replace it next year, so if you don’t like it, you can choose something else. The bad thing about an annual is you have to replace it next year, so you can choose something else. It’s a win-win!
Annual flowers can be planted from seed or an established plant. They tend to bloom throughout the majority of the season and are bright and showy. Some of the most popular annuals are zinnias, impatiens, petunias, marigolds, and geraniums. To add more visual interest, choose different textures as well. Look at the leaves, touch them, smell the flower. Each sense will be awakened.
There is another category of flower called a biennial. These can be a little tricky to get started, but well worth the extra effort. Biennials need additional attention during the winter between their first and second growing season. Once you get them returning in their second season, they will drop seeds and you will have blooms for generations. My favorite in the category is foxglove. Think of biennials as the accessories to the flower garden. Necessary? Probably not, but they really can give the wow factor to your flower landscaping.
By choosing plants from all three categories, you are guaranteed flowers throughout the growing season. There is so much great advice we can learn from our flower garden. One, choose wisely. Two, be patient. And last, beauty can grow anywhere with love. Thanks, Mom.
Kathy Ray is Vice President of Pond Wiser, Inc.
Planning Your Flower Garden