Summer is in full swing, which means the many gardeners of Creston are spending most of their time outside exercising their green thumbs.
Manager Jess Stacey-Sokulski of Morris Flowers Garden Center highlighted some suggestions for the best plants to add to your garden.
“When you are selecting plants, you want to plan for colour throughout the entire season,” she said. “Not only do colourful flowers add interest, they are also a great food source for our pollinators like honey bees.”
There are three main categories to consider – perennial flowers, annual flowers, and shrubs. The Creston Valley is in Zone 5, which is very temperature and allows for a wide range of plants to thrive through a long growing season.
Stacey-Sokulski said there are benefits to including all different kinds of plants in your garden.
“For perennials, there is usually a shorter window for flowers to bloom, but they continue to come back every year,” she said. “With annuals, they provide some instant gratification and the satisfaction of lots of colour.”
She went on to tell the Advance some of the most popular choices.
Popular Perennial Flowers
• Catmint (nepeta) – Silvery-green foliage with purple flowers. Blooms from mid to late spring. Multiple flowers that are attractive to bees. Partial shade to full sun.
• Coneflower (echinacea) – Myriad of colours from white to purple to red and more. Blooms from late summer to fall. Full sun.
• Salvia (common sage) – Variety of vibrant colours from dusty pinks to purples. Blooms from late spring to late summer. Full sun.
• Dianthus (carnation/sweet william) – Silvery-blue foliage with pink flowers. Blooms from early spring to summer. Partial shade to full sun.
Popular Perennial Foliage and Shrubs
“Putting shrubs with feathery leaves next to more broad-leafed plants creates visual interest due to the varying textures and shapes,” said Stacey-Sokulski. “So that’s also something to consider.”
• Hostas (plantain lilies) – Number of different varieties with broad leaves in bright greens to blues to variegated. Blooms for about three weeks during the growing season. Thrives in the shade. Very hardy.
• Coral bells (heucherella) – Leaves in burgundies and oranges. Versatile from full sun to full shade
• Smoke bush (cotinus) – Oval leaves in rich purples, golds, and greens. Pairs nicely with flowers in the same colour range. Full sun to partial shade.
• Elderberry (sambucus) – Delicate, lacy leaves that come in bright green or black varieties. Full to part sun.
• Silver buffaloberry (shepherdia argentea) – Unique silvery leaves with bright red berries. Rugged and can handle a wide variety of growing conditions.
When establishing a new garden, it will generally take two to three years for perennials to reach their mature size. Patience is very important.
“It can be helpful to incorporate some annuals into the garden to fill in some of the space while perennials are establishing themselves the first few years,” said Stacey-Sokulski.
• Dahlias – Related to sunflowers and daisies. Comes in a rainbow of colours that are perfect for cut arrangements.
• Petunias and superbells – Most commonly seen in hanging baskets in a wide range of colours. Continuously blooms with deadheading.
• Marigolds – Another gardeners’ favourite. Bright yellow, orange, and red varieties. Helps with pest control by deterring deer and rabbits.
The spring season is when gardeners begin to clean up debris in their yards. Rearranging and transplanting flowers and shrubs is best done when the first new buds begin to show, before much new growth happens.
“I tend to leave all of the branches and seed heads over the winter, so they can help insulate the plants from the snow and also act as a food source for birds,” said Stacey-Sokulski.
Through the season, some perennial flowers, like catmint and coneflowers, will re-bloom after deadheading or pruning. Most annuals will continue to keep blooming with minimal care.
Depending on the type of shrub, those can also be cut back and pruned throughout the season as general maintenance to keep it tidy. There are some varieties that benefit from rejuvenation pruning every few years, like smoke bush.
“As a general rule, don’t ever do a major pruning on evergreen plants, only deciduous. Evergreens will just never grow back,” said Stacey-Sokulski.
While most gardeners do their planting around May long weekend, it can still be done well into the summer months. However, scorching temperatures can make it difficult for new plants to establish their roots without frequent watering.
Other than spring, the next best time to do some planting is in the fall when temperatures start to cool off. Perennial plants should be allowed at least six weeks before the first frost in order to establish roots before going dormant over the winter.
Stacey-Sokulski added that gardening is a very rewarding hobby that just about anyone can get involved in.
“There’s that satisfaction of watching something grow,” she said. “Gardening can teach you many things like adaptability, creative problem solving, and patience, and learning to let go.”
Stop by Morris Flowers Garden Center, located at 1403 Erickson Road, for pots, garden decorations, cedar planters, grocery items made locally, spices, and kitchenware. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
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