Putting on a better show.

I’ll admit to being the kind of gardener that isn’t overly concerned with having chock-a-block blooms all season long. I’m more than happy with the ebb and flow of blooms throughout the season. When you pair that with the natural inclination of plants that are happiest in our soils to bloom more in July and August, well you get a June garden that isn’t putting on much of a show.

Again, it isn’t in my nature to be perturbed by this. However, we know that in a few years we would really like to put the garden on show for the local charity that organizes an annual garden tour. The tour is scheduled for mid-late June every year. Last year, after we got home from the tour, I took a long look at the garden and realized that there wasn’t much going on yet. The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) was looking good. Some of the salvias and lavender were getting going, but the irises were already on their way out and most everything else was only just starting to thicken up. Certainly not ready for blooming and certainly not putting on a great show.

The question now is what to do about it.

Here is my plan:

1. I’m going to keep much better track of what is blooming when, all season long. I whipped up an Excel spreadsheet and am going to track blooms weekly. The idea is that when it is filled out I’ll have a much better idea of where the holes in flowering are. I’ll do one spreadsheet per garden space so as to not muddy my mental gymnastics. If I’m smart, I will color code it as well.

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2. I’ll figure out what perennials are going to work to fill the voids. This feels like its easier said than done- especially with color-schemes already set in stone. But since the internet is awesome, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out some options that will work in each space.

3. Annuals! I’m not a huge fan of annuals (with a few exceptions like California Poppies, Cosmos, Tithonia, and Poppies) and am not super great at planning ahead to have a large stock to work from. But I think the year that we are a part of the tour, I will have to work with plenty of annuals to spice up the space and make it worthy of showing off. This means I’ll have to have my varieties and timings all set far ahead of time so that everything is blooming on schedule.

4. Fill in with more of what is working. This is part of the plan every year, but I’ll need to pay close attention- in real time- so that come fall, we can divide and transplant to thicken up the spaces.

5. Don’t panic. With the Main Gardens (East & West) so new, it will be at least another 2 years before we can consider the space even remotely close to show-ready. If we end up working on the furthest yet-to-be-decided-on space, the deadline will be more like 3 or 4 years. Its good to be thinking about this early on, but I have to remind myself there’s no reason to panic, yet.

I would absolutely love to hear your tips for getting spaces in tip-top shape for showing and for filling in the lulls in perennial blooms.

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