Can someone help me get started?

momma_s(9b, SZ14)May 23, 2009

Hello. I have two 2'x6' sections that will back against a raised patio/deck that is a red color that I'm looking to add flowers, but I have NO experience with flowers (I've managed so far to almost kill my snapdragons, verbena and marigolds).

I'm hoping some of you can give me a few plant ideas that will cover the following criteria...

~Don't really want the standard daffodil, tulip or lilies. I like irises.

~Variety of plants that I can plant at one time for low maintenance and continual bloom throughout the year (I recall seeing a pic in a mag of different bulbs/plants planted at different depths that would bloom in succession but it was in a container).

~Not too much green, more blooms per plant.

~Any books with lots of pictures you would like to recommend (mention of seasons helps too)?

TIA for your tips & advice!

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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Are you a humid 9b or a dry 9b? Summer dry? Or winter dry?

By combining bearded Iris with bulb Iris you can get a long flowering season but perhaps not 'all year' You might need to look at various shrubs for that sort of sustained performance.

Bulbs are built as they are so they can whizz into leaf and flower over a 'rainy' season - then hide out over a sustained period of dry. Corms and tubers do the same thing - storing food supplies to survive drought.

Check out the South African daisies, and include Gerbera, Gazania, Arctotis. Think about succulents such as Echeveria - and interplant with spring bulbs such as Rhodohypoxis, Hypoxis, Sparaxis, Tritonia, species Gladiolus.

With an informal garden there's still work, but perhaps not as intensive as for a formal layout.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 3:57AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Gotta agree with vetivert, though I'm not as familiar with your zone. You may want to inquire at the Annuals, Perennials, and Shrubs forums rather than here. This is because many bulbs put up foliage and flowers quickly, take a few weeks after flowering to replenish their energy stores, and die back. There are some that keep their foliage up for the whole season, but the bloom time is still just a few weeks.

For these reasons, it's best to choose longer-blooming plants (and/or foliage plants) to create the "bones" of your two small areas. It's really hard to keep a bulb garden going all season. But you can supplement with bulbs and have ever-changing accents of color to complement your gardens. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:53AM
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momma_s(9b, SZ14)

Wonderful responses, vertivert and ladychroe!

vertivert~ My zone 9b is a summer dry, non humid 9b.

When I said "continual blooms," I was thinking more along the lines of one plant after another vs one plant blooming throughout the season(s). I like the idea of having different colors to look at throughout the year.

I'll check out the perennial's board...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 3:03PM
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momma_s(9b, SZ14)

Wonderful responses, vertivert and ladychroe!

vertivert~ My zone 9b is a summer dry, non humid 9b.

When I said "continual blooms," I was thinking more along the lines of one plant after another vs one plant blooming throughout the season(s). I like the idea of having different colors to look at throughout the year.

I'll check out the perennial's board...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 6:45PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

You might also find some ideas on the Bromeliad forum. With a dry summer and negligible frost you could have colour from Aechmea, Bilbergia, and some of the Vriesia. (And that's just the foliage!) There are plenty that aren't desperately prickly and there are lovely little bulbs such as Leucoryne, plus Zephyranthes and Moraea to add a filip to the mix as well.

Trevor Nottle (Aussie gardener and author) said something about picking the right plants for Mediterranean climate gardens,and the hazards of picking up 'common' plants which are often very thirsty.

Even while I'm turning green all over for your 9b climate I'm saying enjoy the huge plant range that is just right for you without any need to cosset or carry water over the summer.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 4:34AM
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