Two of the many great lessons I am attempting to teach my young ‘uns in life are 1. to never be caught with dirty underwear (please change them every day, kids) and 2. to never be caught without bloomers. Both of these goals take some planning and a little bit of work, which is why I think they are both lessons worth teaching. Lesson one is simple at my house. Each morning, after showering, slip into a nice, clean pair. Place the used pair in the laundry where they are guaranteed to get cleaned. By me. Very cut and dry. Once we have that one down with each of our kiddos, we move on to the much more complex and variable concepts of lesson two. We take them outside. We drive around and show them examples of folks with and without bloomers. And then we have “the talk”. We explain that it’s indecent to just let fate determine what bloomers you’ll enjoy and when. We discuss how to avoid getting caught with no bloomers.
If you have a flower garden of your own, you know why having a constant source of bloomers is important. It just keeps things more colorful and lively. The only way to avoid the embarrassment of being “one of those” people is to have a flower garden plan.
Perennial Flowers versus Annual Flowers
Where we live, we depend on perennials to keep the blooms going. Perennials are plants that come back year after year. Their greens and tops may appear to die off in the fall and winter, but their root systems are alive and well. They make their comeback in the spring. Annuals, on the other hand, are like shooting stars. They are only around for a minute, but they are beautiful while they last.
We do throw in an annual or two to make sure our kids understand the importance of being well rounded. And annuals help to teach an objective lesson on economics. Since our growing season is quite short, it’s a bit like flushing the poor bloomers and our money right down the toilet to invest in plants that will only be around for a few months. (With the exception of marigolds as companions to the beloved tomatoes.)
Flower Garden Plan – Overlap Your Bloom Times
So, in our attempts to be good examples of keeping our bloomers on, we research which perennials will grow well in our region and when they will produce flowers. We learn about which blooms will overlap with other blooms. We then take on the challenge of planting different plants with the hope and faith that they will bloom when they are expected to. We just trust that all will go well.
Between you and me, I’m a little shy sometimes about the whole thing, really. I mean, what if the rudbeckias don’t come on until many, many weeks after the irises have faded? What if I am caught without bloomers? Will my kids think I’m a hypocrite?
So far I’ve been lucky. The dianthus have always come through for me to bridge that worrisome gap in the spring. And the peonies have been lovely helpers as well- for late spring. Moving into summer, our daylilies will bloom and fade. But, I can count on the yarrow and the Russian sage to provide plenty of color throughout summer and well into fall. And, to round out the fall season this year, we are tackling fall bloomers. We’ve decided to try our hand at planting mums as perennials. So, from the irises that are steadfast and true in the spring, along with a few bulbs that may or may not survive the rabbits, to the Shasta daisies and black-eyed Susan in summer, to the mums in fall, and to the evergreens that round out those long, cold, months, our breeches are always covered.
Warning – Flower Garden Plans are Fickle
When all else fails, we teach the kids we can always count on the annuals as a fall back. However we suggest the use of annuals with extreme caution. With the addictive nature of seeking after bloomers, we feel it’s dangerous to point them in that direction. We certainly don’t want them to become dependent on any quick fix. They need to learn that it’s a lesson of patience. It’s a labor of trial and error. They may feel like failures as they stand there in the middle of their own flower gardens one day, vulnerable as can be, wondering how the plans failed and what went wrong. We teach them that we’ve all made the mistake a time or two, so it’s important to support rather than to judge. But it’s worth the effort to never, ever be caught without bloomers.