Watching the many perennial and annual blooms changing throughout the growing season, these gardens transform along side nature. Despite our long cold winters, there are many lovely options for both perennials and annuals in our northern gardens. Annuals that reach maturity within 90 days do best, and perennials adapted to our zones 3-4 growing area can be some of the easiest plants to care for. Native perennials can also offer some of the easiest options for care once you have them established, and they offer a bonus in attracting native pollinators and wildlife. These plants can often tolerate a grazing deer having some resistant or tolerant properties to help thwart our hungry wild cervids. Some of my favorite natives like Jacob’s ladder, cup plant, and milkweed have been resilient despite our large local deer population. Some of my favorite low maintenance non-native perennials include irises, day lilies, peonies, and stonecrops.
I love to try something new each year, and starting annuals from seed in a sunny window is very easy. It’s a great way to grow your enthusiasm before our growing season arrives, typically late May or early June. White cape daisies, and bachelor’s buttons are some of my favorite go-to annuals. Sunflowers are proving to be a healthy resource for bees, and they sure make lovely giant accents in the gardens. Watch for a variety called Lemon Queen, as this particular sunflower provides both pollen and nectar for the bees. Having something in bloom all growing season will help to ensure there is always a source of food for your garden visitors, so planting annuals and perennials allows you to have more variety. Cosmos, sages, zinnias, and Chinese forget-me-knots, are all wonderful options for summer, but don’t forget your spring and fall bulbs for those first and last foods as winter ends or looms. Incorporating herbs and letting them go to flower also adds a unique and lovely addition to any garden. Herb flowers are another favorite for pollinators, and fragrant plants are often avoided by deer and rabbits. Trying different plants in different spaces always reveals more about the plant than any book will tell you- A favorite gardening trait of mine. Experiences are different for each person in each landscape and in each season. Mother Nature is a lovely story teller, and I always look forward to each new lesson hiding about her ever changing days.