Most first time gardeners see a garden blooming in mid fall, the same garden that was blooming all summer, and think the owner must have a trick up their sleeve or has planted all new flowering plants. Being able to create a sunny, three season garden just takes some planning and time spent learning about different plants and their bloom time. Every plant in the garden is different in so many ways, but especially in the time of the growing season that they bloom.
If you have a sunny garden area that you want to turn into a three season bloomer, use this garden plan and plant suggestion list to design your garden.
Establish Garden Zones
One of the most important parts to setting up a three season garden is to set up distinct garden zones where you can plant flowers of different heights and growth patterns. Leave a zone for border plants, these will be the lowest growers, a zone for mid-height growers, which will get as high as two feet, and then the background growers that will be the tallest of the group.
In order to plant a sunny, three season garden you are going to need to find plants that thrive in the sun and then bloom at one of three times of the growing season, for each zone. These three factors will give you the plants you need to design and fill your garden, with both annuals and perennials so that the job is easier next year.
Three Season Border Plants
For this area of the garden, you want plants that thrive in full sun, are low growing and that bloom at different times– spring, summer and in the fall. They need to be planted in the garden with and amongst each other, so spacing needs to be considered along with the way in which each grows. Some suggestions include irises of any variety which will bloom early spring, are compact and will recede with the coming of summer. Alyssum is a great summer border plant, while it is an annual, it will fill in the entire border area that is available to it and flower from the start of summer into fall. For fall color add Hostas with an interesting leaf pattern. They bloom late summer into fall, but their leaves will add interest and color all season long.
Three Season Mid-Height Plants
For the middle of your garden bed, you are looking for plants that fit the same three criteria. If you are dealing with a smaller garden, try finding a sun loving plant that fits will bloom through each season. Some varieties of daisies will bloom from spring to fall– including Shasta Daisy. Coreopsis is a great spring bloomer that will leave behind interesting foliage when the yellow plants have spent themselves. For spring bloomers try Sedum, which has thick stems and blooms mid to late summer but leaves a deep red flowerhead behind. Summer months can benefit from a few lilies planted, and there are so many varieties available to you so choose a color and style you prefer.
Three Season Background Plants
To add height and interest, choose plants that are large and bushy, are climbers, or have interesting foliage to add to the garden. Climbing vines like clematis can be found in several colors and each of them blooms at a different time of the growing season so find the one that fills the needs of your garden plan. Peony plants come in with a bang every spring, and their color and blooms are intoxicating enough to make you wish they lasted just a bit longer. Add them closer to the front of the background zone. Another interesting plant to consider are ornamental grasses, which won’t flower but do provide you with interesting seed heads that can resemble anything from a flower to a bushy tail.