Green County MGA

Green County Master Gardeners Association, Wisconsin

Perennials and Annuals in your garden

Part of the joy of gardening is the anticipation of change that comes with each gardening season.  Spring flowering bulbs offer the first display of color and excitement for the season ahead.  I am already thinking about the show of daffodils and tulips that will soon dot our landscape. Yet at the same time my thoughts are on the summer blooms.  It is helpful to have some plan in mind before heading to the garden centers to purchase your plants.

Perennial planting offers a wide assortment of plants with varying shapes, colors, and textures.  I often think of these plants as the backbone of my flower garden.  An advantage of using perennials is that they are relatively permanent and thus do not have to be replaced every year.  Different perennials vary in the length of their life span.  Peonies, iris, and daylilies may live for decades whereas Shasta daisies, columbine, lupine, and delphinium may only live for a couple of years.  It is also wise to become aware of each cultivar’s specific time and length of bloom to help you create a garden with continuous bloom.  Most perennials sold in nearby garden centers are suited for growing in zones 3, 4, or 5.  Growing zones are established to help gardeners be more effective in planning which perennial plants to use.  Green County can fluctuate between zones 4 and 5, thus I usually provide additional winter mulch for any zone 5 perennial I plant.

Annuals are plants that live for one growing season.  Annuals are a wonderful addition to any landscape as the bloom is usually continuous until frost. They come in a variety of color, heights, and species and can be planted in masses or interspersed between perennials that have a much shorter bloom period.

As your garden plan unfolds keep in mind plantings that will bloom with the deep rich hues of color.  Think about pairing plants with similar colors.  Certain colors create mood and can unify a planting by drawing your attention to that area of the garden.  Adjacent colors like blue, violet, and red create a soothing combination whereas combining red, orange, and yellow will be more dazzling. Incorporating white in your plantings will help the visual transition to different plant combinations in your landscape.

Remember that gardening is not perfect.  Have fun, experiment, and allow for serendipity.  Until next time…happy gardening!

Nina Binkley

UW Extension Master Gardener Volunteer