Cheering up an elder


I am looking to cheer someone up by planting some colourful, perennial flowers on his front lawn. He lives in Toronto, Ontario and the front of his house faces the west. I am interested in plants that are low maintenance and would thrive in this particular condition. There are several trees on the front of the house that provides some shade. Unfortunately, I do not have a green thumb so I don’t know what type of soil he has but I included a photo that may help. I’m looking for any recommendations on which types of flowers I should buy and plant out front. Anything bright, vibrant, and cheerful would be fantastic. Thanking you in advance for your help! Grace


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

What a lovely idea to bring cheer into some one else’s life especially with everything going on in the world today. Enjoying your outdoor garden space is a great  refuge to watch the birds, bees, butterflies and simply enjoy nature.

Before selecting plants for any garden there are a number of factors that must be taken into account. First, you need to consider light conditions in the front yard and the type of soil. All perennials have different requirements for growth. Some perennials thrive with six hours of sun, others need only four hours and others prefer a fair amount of shade. Some perennials like sun in the morning and others tolerate the hot afternoon sun. To figure out how much light there is in the garden, observe where the sun is at different hours of the day. By doing this you will have a better idea as to whether you can plant sun loving or shade loving perennials.

From the photo it appears that there are a number of mature evergreen and deciduous trees on the property. The issue with planting where there are mature trees is competition for water and nutrients between the trees and the newly planted perennials. For this reason you may wish to consider planting drought tolerant perennials for shade or part shade.

From our website I have attached an article about drought tolerant perennials you may wish to consult.

Another factor to consider when planting perennials is perennials typically do not flower all summer long, but some perennials do flower longer than others. The key to having flowers throughout the summer is to plant a variety of perennials so that the garden always has something is in bloom. So, when choosing perennials, check the plant tag which should show the flowering period. The following Garden Guide lists a number of long blooming perennials:

Long Blooming Perennials: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide

More and more homeowners are turning towards native plants for their gardens. The benefits of gardening with native plants are many including: attracting native pollinators and birds, easy maintenance, drought tolerance and helping to conserve our natural heritage for future generations. It would be beneficial to grow native plants that attract pollinators such as monarchs and bees, as they are as essential to most flowering plants. The Halton Master Gardeners have an excellent article on Why Native Plants? and a list of Native Plant Nurseries in Southern Ontario.

Native Plant Suggestions is one of our earlier posts which list native perennials and shrubs for various light requirements. Also, Pollinator Garden is one of our Gardening Guides which list a number of native perennials for variable light requirements.

You may be interested in this archived post titled Perennials which does list a number of easy to grow perennials along with their light requirement and time of flowering.

Lastly, we have a number of resources on planting perennials on our website. Simply type Perennials in the Find It Here box located to the right of the page.

Happy Planting!

April 19, 2021