Gardens for All Seasons
Mild winters are the saving grace when you live in a climate where summers are a little too long and often too hot for comfort. In some regions, winter is a season of ample rainfall and cool temperatures that can be enjoyed in the company of numerous garden plants. Although many plants do slip into dormancy where winters are mild, there are plenty of evergreen trees, shrubs, and even perennials, as well as hardy annuals that will keep the garden vibrantly alive with greenery and flowers through the slow season.
Every climate has its problems. In northern areas, winter comes early and stays late, much to gardeners' chagrin. This may explain why gardeners in cold climates often create beautiful gardens. They may be the result of long winter nights spent planning and dreaming.
Stress escalates in the dog days of late summer for both gardens and gardeners. Even if you live in a climate that luxuriates in cool nights, the days are long and often dry. In much of the country, late-summer days are hot, and nights are sultry. Many areas also suffer from prolonged droughts this time of year. The best plan is to join forces with the season rather than fighting it. So relax your pace in late summer, and enjoy the many care-free plants that grow best when it's hot.
Early summer is a time of bounty in any garden. A full canopy of leaves on trees and shrubs form lush clouds of green overhead, and sunny beds boast an abundance of beautiful blossoms. The list of early-summer bloomers is a long one. The starlets of the early-summer garden are hardy perennials that spend spring growing new stems and leaves in preparation for a bright flush of flowers.
The sure cure for a gardener's wintertime blues is a vibrant spring garden. Fortunately, blooming is the first thing on the agenda for many plants when they emerge from winter dormancy, so early-spring color is not difficult to create in any type of garden.
Autumn signals the start of the garden's slow saunter toward winter. Plants and gardeners alike welcome the return of cooler weather and lower humidity. It's a time when some flowering plants finally get exactly what they've been waiting for: the short days and cool temperatures that trigger asters, chrysanthemums, and goldenrods to cover themselves with blossoms. Smart gardeners take advantage of the crisp, cool weather by planting spring-flowering bulbs, digging beds for the next season, and fertilizing lawns.
From the opening of the first spring snowdrop to the last autumn aster, gardeners strive to keep their gardens beautiful and interesting all year long. There may be a week during the growing season when even the best garden slips into a lull. But it's possible to create a garden that performs virtually nonstop throughout the seasons, including winter, when many plants are at rest.