Lights, camera, garden


The first week of March is usually full of transitions. Temperatures fluctuate drastically and we can go from sunny skies to snow, sleet and rain all in one day.

Rather than cursing at Mother Nature, start making plans for the upcoming planting season.

Seasonal photo shoot

Do you remember what is sleeping under the blanket of gray snow in your landscape? Take a seasonal picture of your landscape. Stand in the same spot and shoot a picture of the front of your house, the back of your house and the front of other focal points in your yard. Do this right now, then do it again in May, July and October. You can compare the pictures from season to season and see where you need to fill in the bare spots and prune out the overgrown areas.

Spring bloomers

If you need more spring bloomers, you should plant early flowering shrubs like lilac, forsythia, magnolia or redbud. These will make great additions to the back of a landscape or help to shape a focal point.

If you need some color to fill in from the back row to the ground cover in front, try rhizomes such as iris or bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Plant the bulbs and rhizomes in the fall when the soil temperatures are warm and the moisture is plentiful.

For more pops of spring color, add some of my favorite perennials and annuals like black-eyed Susan, calendula and California poppies. The deep red and purple of salvia can also brighten up large areas in your garden, especially under trees with light shade.

Summer bloomers

Prairie plants are great additions to your landscape that will show off in the summer. They can handle the hot sun and drought conditions and still show off their best sides. Perennial day lilies add some volume and color to bare areas in the garden that need some structure. And of course, every garden needs peony. They don't like to be moved, so once they are established, let them do their job.

You can't go wrong with hardy roses like Knockout. They take a bit of special care, but every gardener that grows them says they are worth the extra effort.

Fall color

Of course, one of the most popular fall flowers is the chrysanthemum. Mums need to be compact and bushy plants. You want as many stems as you can get because almost all of them will produce a flower. To keep them compact, you need to prune them in July. You will already see lots of growth on them in the mid summer, but don't be afraid to cut them back to about a 12 to 18 inches. They are growing vigorously during the summer and will have plenty of time to regenerate more stems and pop out even more blossoms for you by fall.

Dahlias are another beautiful summer and fall bloomer. We have an amazing Dahlia collection at the Toledo Botanical Garden and I encourage you to take a look to get some ideas for your own landscape. I have always wanted to try them because each one is exquisite. Some of them are so stunning that they will be a star performer in your garden that is lacking a focal point.

Winter color

Yes, you can find some color in the garden even in the dead of winter. You have to look for the plants that have pretty twigs and berries. Red twig dogwood or some native grasses are usually the focal points in the winter along with the evergreens. These will have beautiful red twigs to enjoy after the leaves fall in the winter.

So, get the camera out and start shooting pictures.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at