Yay! Summer! And with it come fun times with family and friends outdoors—one of the main reasons we make a garden! And the Turners (pictured above)
enjoy their garden nearly year-round, thanks to careful plant selection and thoughtful garden design. We toured this garden in an earlier post—you
can read more about it and get a photo tour here.
How is your garden holding up, now that spring color and blooms are long gone? If you’re feeling a bit “meh” about it, you might need to add some fire to spice it up. But while adding a little summer heat to your garden is a great first step, you’ll want to maintain a slow simmer to develop the richest, deepest flavors that will continue to bring pleasure throughout summer, into fall, and beyond. When choosing plants and creating planting combinations for your garden, these three tips will help you do just that:
Focus on Foliage
Flowers are fleeting, but foliage endures. Pay attention to the details—the overall color of the leaf for sure, but also observe the color of emerging foliage, the veins and stems of the leaf, and any transitions in color as it emerges in spring or declines in fall. Accentuate what you see by pairing it with a plant partner that echoes or enhances the color.
Many of us garden on smaller plots and can only fit a few trees and large shrubs into our gardens. So it pays to be fussy and to select only those that will deliver on one or more of these counts: blooms, fragrance, attractive foliage, fall color or interesting bark or stems. The larger the plant the higher the bar, though smaller plants may enjoy a bit more leeway. I call this the Goodness Ratio.
Sometimes a plant will earn its keep by fulfilling a specific function: for example, screening an unsightly view, covering the ground to control erosion, providing shade, etc. But ideally, it will be adept at multi-tasking—reliably fulfilling its assigned duties, and look good doing it.
Keep Your Eyes Open
All-year allure is the holy grail of a Pacific Northwest garden. Creating a garden that will evolve and change through the seasons is accomplished by evaluating and tweaking your plant palette until you’re satisfied with the year-round aspect of your choices.
By visiting gardens and nurseries in all seasons, you’ll be exposed to a steady supply of fresh ideas and input from varied sources. This will make it easier to add color and interest to your garden throughout the year. If you don’t keep looking, it’s easy to miss out on some of the plants that take a bit longer to get rolling – they need higher temps, warmer soils, and longer days before they hit their stride. With each subsequent visit, you’ll be exposed to plants that weren’t awake or in stock earlier.
Creating an ensemble cast of plants, each taking their turn on the center stage as the seasons pass, will give your garden the staying power you’re looking for. And with thoughtful plant selection, you can keep the show going year-round, thanks to our relatively mild climate.
What Caught My Eye Touring
Gardens and Nurseries This Week
I'll be fast-tracking these plants and combos for inclusion on the site if they're not already. Look for links and plant IDs in the captions to signify whether they're live yet, and I'll circle back to this post to update links as they're available.