In Southern Ontario the time for spring gardening begins the May long weekend. Though we might enjoy warm weather anywhere as early as mid-April, the danger of frost (or even snow!) is too great to invest in spring gardening much before the third weekend in May, as much as we might wish it was earlier! Since we're gearing up for this weekend's garden center visit, we thought we'd share some of our favourite foolproof plants for any garden.
Creeping Jenny is a beautiful perennial ground cover which is tolerant of mild foot traffic. It looks amazing filling in around borders and edges, as well as around paving stone. If used in containers, it will overflow and trail gracefully, adding beautiful texture. We love Creeping Jenny particularly for its vibrant green colour- it adds incredible energy to a garden bed, and is visibly different than surrounding grasses. Creeping Jenny produces small yellow cup shaped flowers, but for the majority of the growing season looks just as displayed here- green, leafy and low lying.
Creeping Thyme is an evergreen perennial ground cover which grows in dense, low lying mats. It spreads quickly and easily, smells incredible and produces profusions of tiny purple flowers in late summer. It is excellent used between paving stones or as a living patio. Although Creeping Thyme smells amazing to humans, it is actually deer repellent, so is a great choice to dissuade deer if they are common in your area. Creeping Thyme can withstand quite a bit of foot traffic, and becomes incredibly aromatic when crushed underfoot. Lastly, Creeping Thyme is attractive to bees and butterflies, making it an excellent choice for any pollinator garden.
The Shasta daisy is a cheerful, classic perennial. It is extremely hardy, and will tolerate a variety of soil types, making it a great choice for a novice gardener. Shasta daisies are low maintenance and grow well with little care. They grow quickly in full sun, and in fact, a single Shasta plant from a 3" container can grow to a 1 foot square clump in a single season! They bloom profusely in dense clumps, and can achieve a height of 2 feet. Because they are such a classic plant, they look amazing in any traditional garden. Although Shasta daisies are perennials, they are short lived and return for only a few years. Staggering yearly plantings will ensure that your Shasta daisies continue to colonize in your garden.
Echinacea is one of our simple garden favourites because of its stunning, sunset-inspired blooms. Gorgeous flame-coloured centres are surrounded by petals ranging from palest lavender to fuschia for an impressive display. Echinacea blooms from late July to September, and grows to a height of 3 or 4 feet. It looks amazing paired with shorter blooming plants, such as the Shasta daisy because its blooms spire overhead for a layered garden look. Echinacea is also a great attraction for butterflies and bees!
Lavender is our last hardy perennial favourite. It is non-invasive, meaning it stays where you put it! It grows in shorter, compact bushes which can form a low lying hedge if maintained properly. Left to its own devices, lavender will grow up to a height of 3 feet, and provides a hazy cloud of colour which softens edges for neighbouring plants. Lavender flowers are very attractive to bee and butterflies, and can help other plants in your garden be pollinated by proximity. This can encourage more blooms throughout your whole garden!