After Labor Day, gardens begin the last burst into summer blossoms. Swamp sunflowers bloom with golden glow; asters match their brightness with purple and blue, and colorful chrysanthemums greet a hello to fall. For active gardeners, fall is the time to prepare next year’s beauty by planting new perennials and shrubs. This time assures vegetation roughly six months to adjust to life outside of a pot and to prepare for prolific flowering from spring into autumn.
The Ever-Blooming Flower Garden offers a thoughtful system for planning beds and selecting appropriate perennials to beautify a garden through three seasons. Lee Schneller, the author, is a specialist in continuously blooming gardens.
Prior to establishing her Maine gardening business in 1995, she was a teacher and translator in Chinese and Japanese languages. Although she lacks a formal degree in horticulture, her experience from planning approximately 150 gardens and 8,000 plants has created a worthwhile book filled with advice for experienced and beginning gardeners.
Schneller informs the reader that she believes in densely planted beds before explaining her process of determining how many and what plants one needs. She advises drawing the bed’s shape and size on graph paper. Divide that diagram into thirds for short, medium and tall plants, and use her simple mathematical formula for deciding how many of each size plant to purchase.
She presents five gardens to illustrate results of her method. Each features the recommended diagram of plant location and a formula. Color photographs of the garden through its blooming seasons are shown with plants labeled. According to the author, they were designed for easy maintenance to satisfy busy customers.
Schneller also provides a Plant Palette to assist in choosing plants. This chapter is divided into seasons from early spring through summer and ending in fall. No specific months are listed for blooming since the perennials will grow in varied climates from Maine to the Triangle’s zone 7. Each plant is sorted by height, color, blooming weeks, and light requirements.
For more information on the 200 plants in the Plant Palette, she has included a Plant Catalog. Arranged alphabetically by Latin name, each plant is accompanied by a picture, advice for planting and a symbol for “habit” or shape. Schneller explains knowing the “habit” as a way to avoid smothering small plants and poor structure when unfamiliar plants become giants or develop unattractive foliage.
She expresses her insights throughout the book and in its extensive tables with tips on watering, deadheading, weeding, winter care, and various planting types. Her conversational style fulfills her goal of helping “you design and plant a garden that can bring you joy throughout the seasons and for years to come.”
Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.