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A garden for all seasons
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Help me with my garden!

I get a lot of requests from customers, family and friends on how to create a visually enticing garden that looks its best throughout the entire year. Planning and choosing the appropriate plants to make a garden shine in every season, be it spring, summer, autumn or winter takes a little planning, but it is worth every minute of it.

Believe it or not, the summer season presents the greatest challenge of all. Growing plants in a garden that will last for six to eight weeks of hot, humid and drought conditions as well as heavy rain can push the limits on your landscaping success.

To start, I will focus on the summer garden. Then I will come back with ideas to carry the garden through the seasons of fall, winter and spring.

Many plants can be used during the summer to keep your garden in tiptop shape, especially during the hot spells. Tropical plants thrive here, including elephant ears, canna and ginger lilies. You can also rely on butterfly-loving lantanas, salvias, daisies and many other heat-loving plants to flourish.

Perennial gardens are a favorite of mine for getting a garden through to the late summer months. Hardy perennials and many types of shrubs become indispensable with their flowers and foliage to take the gardener into early fall. Some great flowering perennials include Amsonia (Arkansas bluestar), black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia), and several blooming hydrangeas. Flowering shrubs such as Rose of Sharon, crape myrtle and American beautyberry add color to the warm days and evenings.

As summer comes to an end, choose plants that have colorful foliage and interesting bark features, which will transition into the fall season. Choose from a plethora of maple tree varieties and evergreen shrubs. Trees with interesting bark can highlight a cool season garden.

For the winter landscape, select red twig dogwoods and riverbirch trees. Plant Camellia sasanquas and japonica shrubs for blooming flowers. Choose some interesting evergreen trees to add color during the entire year. Arizona cypress and deodar cedars can be breathtaking against a cold winter sky.

Then as spring approaches, add spring flowering bulbs. Plant them in masses in the fall to create stunning spring displays.

Designing a four-season garden is a truly rewarding goal. With a little planning and good design, a bright and inviting garden is at your fingertips all year round. The extension office can help with many plans to fit your site selections and requirements.

Summertime is outdoor time and being in a landscape full of beautiful flowering annuals, perennials and shrubs can be a soothing, comfortable space to enjoy.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or Her column appears biweekly and on

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