PLAN YEAR AROUND, WHEN PLANTING IN
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
With spring in the air its hard to resist picking up
just about every flower in the garden center and taking
them home with you, and I am the last person to tell
you to fight that urge. What I am suggesting is that
you put some thought into you selections, and think the
year round when purchasing plants.
Think back to winter, not such a long time ago, and
remember what the your garden looked like then. On those
cold, rainy days when you looked out your window were
you, greeted by a garden full of colorful foliage and
fantastic shapes, or was it rather dull, uninteresting,
and empty looking? If it was the latter, it is you who
I am addressing. Winter is when a great landscape proves
its true worth. Spring and summer we can fill our yards
with fantastic flowers, and blooming plants easily. If
we have chosen only herbaceous perennials, and deciduous
plants then we will find that as soon as the fall arrives
and cold weather returns, these plants will disappear
into dormancy, once again leaving the winter garden bare.
Herbaceous perennials are those that die to the ground
completely in cold weather. Shasta Daisy, Gloriosa Daisy
(Rudbeckia), Delphinium, Columbine, etc, are just a few.
During the growing season these plants are quite useful
for their beautiful flowers. In the winter they will
retreat into the earth where their roots remain alive,
but the tops, above ground, die away. Deciduous shrubs
and trees are those that drop their leaves in the fall
and winter. These include Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia),
Burning bush (Euonymus alata), Barberry (Berberis), etc.
These are valuable plants with beautiful flowers or colorful
foliage. We just don’t want to fill the garden
up with these plants exclusively.
The term, foundation plant, expresses part of what we
are discussing. These foundation plants are the anchors
in our garden that seasonal color might be worked into.
In an imaginary border in the shade we might include
Dwarf Rhododendron, Lily-of-the-Valley shrub (pieris
species), or Camellias as foundation shrubs. These plants
are evergreen, and set the backdrop for smaller shrublets
or flowers. I like to use Lily-turf ‘Silver Sunproof’ (Liriope)
in the corners or around rocks. A one-foot tall, ornamental,
evergreen grass has soft looking leaves edged in silver,
providing a colorful note in both summer and winter.
In amongst the evergreens we can include the herbaceous
perennials, or annuals, we like. These would include
Columbine, impatiens, begonias, campanula, etc. When
these plants are asleep in the winter, the foundation
plants provide interest.
Using plants with colorful foliage is another way to
provide interest all year. Take a rock wall for example.
You want something to spill over and down the wall. Trailing
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is often used. Instead
of using only its green foliage, work in some Mother
lode juniper (Juniperus “Mother Lode’). Growing
only six inches tall, it will creep over the wall providing
a bright yellow color that turns plum in the winter.
One of the most beautiful of all cascading plants is
the Prostrate Blue Spruce (Picea pungens glauca ‘Prostrata’).
Related to the Colorado spruce tree it grows about one
to two feet tall and tumbles over the wall with a bright
blue year round color. Now your wall has interest all
Spring is a time for flowers. Just keep in mind the
changing seasons, and think back to winter. With a little
planning we can provide ourselves with cheerfulness and
beauty the year round.