With today’s new hybrid tropical look-alikes, there’s no excuse to deny yourself a tropical slice of heaven regardless of your location of hardiness zone. You’ll want to plant hardy hibiscus in colder climes. They’re just as lush and vibrant as the tender varieties, and you’ll have a profusion of twelve-inch blooms from midsummer until the
first frost. Fill in with hostas or other masses of herbaceous plants.
Winter is the most difficult season for novice gardeners. You won’t have to baby-sit your plants during the winter, but you’ll need to select plants that bloom in the winter while adding attractive foliage to the garden during the other seasons. Hellebores (Christmas rose, winter rose, Lenten rose) bloom at various times during the winter months, but their foliage is attractive even without blooms. Their size and habit are attractive additions to most types of gardens. Their only liability is their dislike for transplantation. Find a spot for them and live with it; otherwise, you risk irritating them into a few non-blooming seasons. Once they bloom, they are profuse bloomers, and their blooms range from white and pink to purple and green. Camellias, which resemble a small rose and rival the rose in variety, add height to border and foundation gardens, and provide a profusion of rose-like blooms.
What cutting gardens lack in curb appeal, they add to your home décor. To gain maximum enjoyment from your cutting garden, plant it in an out-of-the-way location and raid it with total abandon. Plant a combination of perennial and annual plants, showy and delicate blossoms, fragrant and plants without fragrance. You can plant the flowers closer together in a cutting garden to maximize your crop each year. You’ll thin the flowers almost daily, and if you plant in an out-of-the-way location, it doesn’t matter if your cutting garden looks crowded. The more you cut, the more your flowers will 14bloom, except for gladiolas, lilies, daffodils, and other plants that produce a fixed amount of blooms or stalks per bulb each year.
A few fragrant plants go a long way and can turn an ordinary garden into a fragrant one. Be careful not to go overboard with fragrant plants, because what you may find pleasingly fragrant, your guests may find offensive or downright nauseating. Subtle is the key word when planning a fragrant garden. Consider a few additions such as petunia, tuberose, hyacinth, lavender, gardenia, jasmine and moonflower.
You can grow your own vine-ripened vegetables in your backyard. Vegetables grow nicely in a small plot, a raised bed, or even in containers right outside your kitchen door. Unless you live in the country surrounded by a lot of acreage or your house is not visible from the road, it’s best to tend to your vegetables in the backyard. Just because you’re growing vegetables doesn’t mean the garden has to be boring. You can plant a short border to surround the garden, and you can work with the colors, textures and heights of the vegetables to add visual interest to the garden.
Herbs are easy to grow and a welcome addition to every savory dish. Fresh herbs are also expensive to buy, making a gallon of gas look like a bargain. Fortunately, they’re inexpensive to grow, and you can start them from seed or plant immature plants. However you start them, you’ll enjoy them in the kitchen in a matter of weeks. If you only need a small quantity of herbs and you’re growing them strictly for cooking, plant them in containers outside the kitchen door. But why stop there? Add interest to border gardens by using herbs as companion plants.
Photo by Maria Eklind