Great Gardening plants & flowers
Do you have a green thumb? Then welcome to the club, friend! We love sharing about our gardening experiences with fellow growers. Today we are here to give you some of our best advice for garden season with these Great Gardening Plants. Planning out our flower and vegetable gardens is one of our favourite things to do in the spring and we wanted to pass some of our knowledge onto you!
Keep in mind that we both live in Canada, where we get to experience all 4 seasons in full force. That means our gardens are filled with very hardy plants, but what more could you ask for! Now let's dive on into some great gardening!
Dirt for your garden
If you are starting your garden from scratch then invest in some good black dirt and compost! You want dirt that does not have a high clay or sand percentage in it. We also mix in compost and manure material. However, if you put in too much manure or compost you can create soil that is "HOT" meaning that your plants will "burn." This means that the soil is too rich and your plants will look like they are burnt or will not grow.
Great Tips for your Flower Garden
For our flower gardens, we love to mix in both perennials and annuals. Perennials are flowers that will come back year after year, whereas an annual will need to be planted each spring. As mentioned earlier, we live in Canada! Britt lives in a Zone 2B and Deb lives in a Zone 3 so we will be sharing great gardening plants and flowers that are pretty hardy! If you live in a desert, then we really don’t have much advice for you haha.
Great Gardening Perennial Flowers
Let’s start off with our list of favorite perennial blooms! Keep in mind that some of these take YEARS to get established to the point where you can cut blooms from them. You can also check out our post on our favourite early spring blooming flowers and trees HERE! These perennials are a good guide to go by when planning out a garden for the years to come as they take a few years to mature.
This hardy bush blooms every year in the spring. There are many different variations of lilac and they grow best in Zone 3-7. Lilac's vary in size and can grow as tall as 12-16' with a blooming time that lasts for approximately 2-4 weeks depending on the variation of lilac that you plant. There is one variation of lilac that will actually rebloom all summer long! For more information on the variations of lilacs you can check out this post by HGTV.
Lilac's are by far the girl's favorite perennial to add to their gardens! That's why it's number 1 on the great gardening plants and flowers list. Britt built her house 5 years ago and planted white lilacs … sadly she has only got a couple blooms.
On the other hand, Deb planted all different variations of lilacs 7 years ago and last summer hers really took off! In Alberta, Canada lilacs are one of the easiest shrubs to grow. Lilacs like sun, shade, water or dry, but they grow best in full sun and well-drained soil… once established they require no care and will bloom year after year. They do require trimming when they get too large.
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Next up on the favourites list would have to be the peony. Again, this plant takes a few years to get established before you can bring in bundles of blooms, but it's still one of the top contenders on our great gardening plants list. You can buy this plant as a piece of root and it will take off. However, to speed up the process buying a plant that has already started will give you a head start. Better yet, find someone with a plant and take a chunk of their root!
Peonies grow best in Zone 3-8 and may require regular, deep watering, specifically during the dry summer months. They may grow well in shade or sun, but do best with at least 5 hours of full sun with rich well-drained soil. Deb has one peony that has never bloomed in 7 years, because it's in too much of a shaded area. After peonies have become established, they require little maintenance. These big bloomers can flower as big as 10"!!
Hydrangeas are harder to grow in our region. However, we have both been very successful with limelight hydrangeas! Deb has done very well with Annabelle and Lava-lamp variations as well. These big bloomers do best in Zone 3-8 and prefer the morning sun making them a great addition to any east facing gardens. They do require A LOT of water to get established! We have a full post on hydrangeas you can read HERE.
Yes it seems weird to plant a thistle in your garden but we love this bloom. We are specifically talking about the Blue Glow Echinops that we grow in our gardens as there are 120 different variations of Globe Thistle. It grows best in Zone 3-8 and when grown in well-drained soil and full sun. However, it will tolerate almost any soil and part shade. It is a perfect late summer flower to cut and bring into your home!
Similar to the Globe thistle this bloom is so pretty to bring in in the late summer. BUT it does have a brutal odour! Because this flower does not require water to come in your house (it naturally dries and keeps its colour). We tie bundles up and hang them on the clothesline and spray them with hairspray or clear polyurethane to lock the smell in. Then spray the sea holly with your favorite scent (like diluted lavender) before bringing them in!
Tulips, hyacinth and crocus are great bulbs to plant as they are hardy and will give you some late spring flowers to kick off the growing season. They represent the beginning of the spring season and new life! You can find variations of these that do well in different zones and conditions.
Great gardening Annual Flowers
Along with the perennial blooms we love to plant a few annual flowers that provide pretty cut flowers. You can check out our recommendations for annuals in our post on Outdoor Living Spaces HERE.
Is there a flower that smells better than a Sweet Pea? Sweet Peas are extremely easy to grow, making them a perfect fit for our great gardening plants and flowers list. Start them from seeds as soon as your ground allows (for us we have to wait until it stops freezing at night).
These flowers can grow in sun or shade and come in a huge variety of colours. Place a flower ring around the seeds when you plant them as they love to vine out and crawl up the metal ring. They are so pretty to cut in the late summer and make your house smell amazing.
Most varieties of sun flowers are annuals and can sometimes be tricky to establish, but if you seeds germinate they will take off! They can also self germinate year after year, especially if the birds take to them. The farm Deb grew up on has an entire garden dedicated to sunflowers for the birds and some years the garden was so full you couldn't walk through it, all from self germination year after year.
Sunflowers need partial to full sun to grow. They like a moist soil but not soggy. We recommend fertilizing during the first 6 weeks of growing.
Another flower that we love is Larkspur! We are working hard to learn the best variety to grow here. There is a local lady near us that grows rows of the most amazing larkspur, however we are struggling to get it established. Deb was successful in growing a few stems last year.
We love this flower because it dries so well! Hang it in bundles to carry you through late summer into fall!
FERTILIZER for great gardening plants
Flowers love potassium to optimize their blooms. When you see the fertilizer containers with the 3 numbers 10-15-25 you want to pick one that has the 3rd number that is the highest. A natural way to add potassium to your flowers is to plant actual pea plants next to your flowers. We planted pea plants next to our limelight hydrangeas to put some potassium back into the soil.
It is important to fertilize in the spring right when flowers are beginning to germinate. Then continue to fertilize every couple of weeks during the first 4-6 weeks of growing.
We also recommend adding some form of natural fertilizer like horse or sheep manure or compost to the garden each year as well! Just make sure to check the correct ratio for the compost mixture as it can burn or kill your seed if you add to much. Adding about a 10% compost mixture prior to planting will really give your garden a boost each year!
We hope after all that, you are left feeling inspired and ready to plant! Both of our gardens are filled with these big and beautiful great gardening plants, so we are sure you will love them just as much as we do. From shrubs and bushes, too fresh cut flowers we love them all. We hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by the blog today! We love sharing our gardens and homes with you and we would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment down below and tell us what your favourite great gardening plants and flowers are for your zone!