Gardening/Landscaping Ideas

(Question)

Hi there, first of thanks so much for your time, really appreciate it. We recently bought a house and it has a small lawn and a very tiny strip of land in the back after deck and on the side of it. There are few ever green shrubs lining the lawn and that’s pretty much about it. Both myself and my husband are novice in terms of gardening but we all love flowers so bought 3 types of roses – floribunda white, golden shower & red dawn and some kind of lilies. We are looking for help with perennial flowering plants which will last from spring to fall , are low maintenance, are fragrant (but not all have to be fragrant though), different variety, non-invasive, non-toxic and different height. I would like to plant something tall in the back (home exterior wall) and the medium/small height in the front. The house is west facing so lawn is full sun and side & back yard are north and south facing. Also, side and back yard have some trees so basically it is not only partial sun but also get shade from the tree. Since we know nothing about gardening, it will be a HUGE help if you can guide us as which plants to buy and what type of soil and fertilizer to keep handy. Both of us are busy and our children are small so cannot give a lot of time to gardening, hence the perennials. Please know that you all are doing a great job by volunteering to help people like me. I hope to hear back from someone and really really appreciate all the help. Thanks in advance.
P.S. Cannot attach more than 1 pic. If you want I can email later. Let me know.

(Answer)

Planning a new garden space can be both exciting and daunting at the same time. Tall, short, wide, thin, hot colours, cool colours,- the list of notable characteristics is endless.

Bringing broad plant groups together allows you to build a well-rounded mixed beds and borders, brimming with plants that provide engaging colour, form, texture and structure.

Probably the greatest thing about an expanded plant palette is that it provides an opportunity to have something going on in the garden during all four seasons.

When selecting perennials the flower colour , growing conditions and height are all important factors, however one should also focus on foliage. Although, foliage might seem boring when compared to flowers, it is one of the most important features of the plant. Most perennials will flower for a period of 3-4 weeks leaving the foliage for the remainder of the season.

Building a mixed border is a lot like preparing your favourite recipe and you are well on your way by beginning with your shrub roses. Since we spend most of our time enjoying our garden in the summer you should think about including ¼ of your perennials which flower in the spring, ½ that flower in the summer, and ¼ of them to flower in the fall.

The next step is to think of your colour palette- do you prefer cool colours- blues, purples and whites; or do you prefer hot colours- reds, yellow, purple.

Before planting begins you should think about soil. Most gardens in new developments are likely to have heavy clay or, worse, builder’s fill, which is just sand and clay. If you want a successful garden, improving poor soil is a must, you should add at least 20cm of good organic matter or triple mix. When it comes to fertilizer more is not necessarily better and too much can cause more problems then it solves. Using a 4 inch layer of wood mulch ( not bark) on top will help retain moisture, decrease weed growth and over time breakdown and add to the nutrients in the soil.

 

The following are a list of easy-to-grow perennials. All are perfect for the beginning gardener, as they do well in sun or partial shade and in any decent soil. None of them require any special care

 

Plant Bloomtime Height Exposure
Candytuft April 10-25cm Sun
Columbine May 30-75cm Sun/partial shade
Bleeding Heart May 25-30cm Partial shade
Iris May 30-60cm Sun
Dianthus June 10-45cm Sun
Lupine June 60-120cm Sun/partial shade
Daylily June 30-90ccm Sun/partial shade
Astilbe July 30-120cm Partial shade
Delphinium July 150cm Sun
Shasta daisy July 100cm Sun
Purple coneflower August 60-150cm Sun/partial shade
Black-eyed susan August 60-90cm Sun/partial shade
Sedum Auguat 30cm Sun/partial shade

 

Note: the height is the height at time of flowering.

The Toronto Master Gardeners have some excellent gardening guides that you may wish to peruse:

Drought Tolerant Perennials http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/drought-tolerant-perennials-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Perennials for Full Sun http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/perennials-for-full-sun-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Perennials for Shade in Dry or Moist Areas http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/perennials-for-shade-in-dry-or-moist-areas-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Long blooming Perennials http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/long-blooming-perennials-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/

Good Luck with your new garden!