What’s Down This Fall?

Acer palmatum ‘Purple Ghost’

With the arrival of much needed rains, it seems that we may not have an Indian Summer in the Pacific Northwest this year. Another sure sign of fall, I saw the first mushroom of the season clinging to the root of a spent tomatoe plant when pulling it up to discard it. Some perennials in your garden may also be looking spent, but others, like Rudbeckia, many types of Salvia and Asters will continue to bloom until frost.

With shorter days and cooler temperatures ahead, it may seem like time to to turn the focus toward indoor activities. But any gardener knows, the real work of making gardens begins now. Fall is one of the the best times to evaluate your landscaping and make changes. Maybe you are ready for an overhaul or just want a new look. Some types of plants are best planted in the fall and will grow roots until the ground freezes so, come next summer, they need less water to thrive. Even if you don’t intend to take any action right away, fall and winter is a good time to plan changes to your garden to implement next spring. Taking pictures each season allows you look back and see what is working best, record your successes and watch your garden mature. Also note which areas need a boost in order to look better at this time next year. If you are working with a garden designer, sharing these images is a good way to start a conversation.

A garden that starts with structural plant elements (good bones) will look good all year long and may become the focus during late fall and winter when branches are bare, perennials are dormant and most blooming plants are not producing flowers. For beginners this is a good place to start and build from. Or, if your garden has never had a plan or lacks unity, looking at it through this lens may be eye opening and give you some ideas about where to focus on or where to get help.

With thousands of plants to choose from, it may seem like an overwhelming task to select plants that look good and support your overall landscape plan. Identifying the type plants you favor is a good place to start. With that information, a garden designer can figure out which ones will thrive in your garden and how those can fit into a cohesive plan.

I hope this blog post helps you get started thinking about enhancing your garden. If you are not a gardener or don’t have the time, you can work with a landscape designer to be able to enjoy the beauty and benefits of curated outdoors spaces.

Need more ideas? Contact me for a design consultation and learn about landscape design or the best plants for any spot in your garden.

What’s All the Buzz About?

It’s spring!

This week I saw the first bumble bee of the season enjoying the flowers on a luxurious mass of Vinca minor cascading over a rockery in one of my clients garden. (Also called lesser periwinkle or dwarf periwinkle, the plant’s deep violet-blue flowers inspired the name for the color “periwinkle blue.”)

photo of a flowering garden that attracts bees, hummingbirds and butterflies

If you want to attract bees, hummingbirds and even butterflies to your garden, all it takes is the right plants and flowers. Here are some easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plants that will give your garden some flower power.

To draw honeybees (and support endangered bee populations), plant Monarda didyma (Bee Balm). The cultivar ‘Jacob Cline’ will reach over 5′ and provide raspberry-red flowers all summer long. Showy zinnias will attract honey bees to your vegetable or cutting garden, and lavender and rosemary are also favorites.

To attract hummingbirds, try adding salvia to your flower beds. Salvia is a highly variable plant with numerous named cultivars. My favorites are Salvia guarantitica ‘Black and Blue’ (Blue Anise Sage) and Salvia microphylla ‘Orange Door’ (Big Orange Mountain Sage). Both bloom profusely from summer until frost. In late fall, when food sources are getting scarce, salvia is often still blooming so hummingbirds will keep appearing in your garden.

Perennials such as asters, phlox, and stonecrop will attract butterflies (and support these declining pollinators). Eupatorium (Joe-Bye Weed) will grow tall and with its unusual large, smokey-rose colored flowers is great at the back of a perennial border. If you grow annuals, snapdragons and lantana are good choices. Mint is also a magnet for butterflies, but keeping in mind that it’s invasive, and so best planted in a container.

Gardening is a great way to spend some time outdoors. What better way to get some fresh air, exercise and peace of mind? If you are not a gardener or don’t have the time, you can still enjoy the beauty and benefits of curated outdoors spaces. If you need more ideas, contact me for a design consultation and learn about flowering plants, design or the best plants for any spot in your garden.