Friday, May 19, 2017

Succession Planning

Spring tulip, columbine & spirea
Once spring has sprung, the pages of what's flowering whizzes by in never ending speed.

It's gone from tulips and daffodils to iris and peonies in the wink of an eye.  It's affirmation all gardens need succession planning.

In the corporate world, it's a plan on how and who will replace upper management personnel when they leave.  In the garden, it means planting perennials to have something blooming during every phase of the spring/summer/fall seasons.

Seldom does the beginner gardener consider succession planning and instead buys for only pretty.  Agreed, pretty is very important but if that pretty only lasts a few weeks of every year, the garden can have some disappointing times. 
Summer Hydrangea, lilies and beebalm

Another factor is the succession of blooming plants must be planted when they're not blooming and when we're not thinking about them.  Spring flowering bulbs is a good example where they must be planted in the fall.

In a smaller example of this, my daylilies represent flowers that bloom extra early, early, midseason and late.  Granted it's powerful to have every daylily blooming at the same time but that show will only last about a month.  Having plants from all four bloom periods extends the bloom time from late April to frost. 
Spring peonies and lilacs.

Read the little tags on nursery plants you're considering for the garden.  They will almost always tell the bloom time.  If in doubt ask the employees.  

Fall is perhaps the hardest time to find a lot of bloomers.  Especially hard for a gardener because these fall blooming perennials take up a lot of garden space all spring/summer being simply green.  

Placing perennials with different bloom times together in beds keeps an area from being entirely "blah" when that one plant isn't in bloom.
Annual Nasturtiums bloom until frost.

If you don't enjoy flowers, the color of the foliage during the different months can help do a similar bed change.  Spring is often the time when some plant leaves are lime green which may soften to medium green as the summer progresses.  A stunning example of fall leaf color is how a Burning Bush turns bright red in the fall.
When all else fails, Hosta leaves work!

Using brightly flowered annuals tucked around perennials will help keep the beds bright until frost.  It requires more time and money but it can worth it for a quick fix or for fuller color.

And finally, if you like to bring cut flowers into the house, having a continuous spring, summer and fall of abundant blooms makes it possible.

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