As much as I'm a sucker for evergreen plants that contribute structure, I also dearly love experiencing the change of seasons and adore plants that display the passage of time in an engaging way.
To add staying power to your garden, try to imagine how specific planting combinations will look in fall, winter, spring and summer. And then strive to select plants that will be an asset to the scene you're creating in at least three seasons.
I'm always on the lookout for combinations when I go on neighborhood walks. For example, the one shown above has been a source of enjoyment for many years now. No matter the season, there's always something to appreciate. The second photo is taken of the same garden, after leaf drop, as it continues to delight passersby with the vibrant orange-red stems of Cornus sanguinea ' Midwinters Fire', brightening a winter's day.
Tips for Choosing Plants with Staying Power
In your quest for plants that possess that elusive multi-season appeal, if you find plants that have three or more of these attributes, you've likely picked yourself a winner:
- blooms for a long time
- blooms in the off-season, when you'll be anxious for color
- fabulous fall foliage color
- colorful winter stems or showy bark, berries, dried flowers or seed heads that remain decorative when the plant is dormant
- colorful emerging foliage
- fragrant flowers or aromatic foliage
That's not an exhaustive list—as you browse our site, I'll bet you'll think of even more ways to extend the season. To get you started, I've singled out some high-performance plant combos (see below) with brief notes as to why they "work."