Extending The Color In Your Garden

Andrea Rundblade | Green Key Landscape Design


For two years now there has been a shortage of plants. Gardening roared back into popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown, and continues to be big with consumers. Whether they’re empty nesters looking to redo an outdated landscape or millennials testing out their gardening skills, one thing is for sure, everyone is looking for seasonal color!

Who wouldn’t want to extend the seasons’ blooms? But it’s not just about buying plants for the birds and the bees. Customers are looking for reblooming shrubs, such as the Bloomerang series of lilac and Hydrangea paniculata that will bloom from May – October! Or even Weigela Florida ‘Sonic Bloom’, this beauty will start to put on a show in May and continue through September. (Did I mention, humming birds love this one?) If customers aren’t satisfied with bloom time on a plant we can always pair it with other interesting and colorful foliage like Heucheras, royal purple Cotonus (Smokebush) or ‘Lemony Lace’ Elderberry.

So many fluffy and colorful textures are out there to make a perfect match to those long blooming plants. The demand has been so high for these reblooming beauties that garden centers and growers have sold out and had to start again with smaller plants. They are just now, two years later, getting to the perfect sizes for retail. It takes time for all these plants to grow before you see them on a garden center shelf.

So, during that time, we landscapers had to look at other options and tell our customers, to be prepared to have to make substitutions. The silver lining is that, in turn, it did help expand our palette. Here are some plants I fondly call my ‘COVID list’ that I have now grown to love and they have made it to my permanent palate:

  • Spiraea ‘Double Play Artisan’. This one has Blue-green foliage and emerges purplish-red; with a sparkly pink flower that blooms from the end of April to October! Grows 24-36”.
  • Hydrangea Serrata ‘Tuff Stuff’ has pink flowers that bloom early summer and last until frost. Grows 24-36”
  • Sedum Spectabile ‘Autumn Fire’ has a rosy flower that age to salmon and turn a deep coppery red in the fall. Grows 18-24”
  • Phlox Paniculata ‘Bubblegum Pink’ this one has HOT pink flowers with a touch of white. Blooms May-Sept. Grows 18-24”
  • Shade Garden? No problem: Ligularia ‘Bottle Rocket’ has a bright yellow flower that spikes over large serrated green leaves. Blooms April- Sept. Grows 24-36”


As much as we concentrate on long blooming plants in the summer. We must not forget about adding grasses for fall texture, and spring bulbs like tulips or daffodils for early spring interest.

And last, but not least, don’t forget about poor old winter. We still need to love our gardens through the snow with things like red twig dogwood, beautifully branched serviceberries and boxwoods. That is how you extend your garden season. It should never stop. Every time you look out your window no matter what time of year something really neat should catch your eye and make you smile.

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