The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer since the real beginning of summer annuals is December 15th (which is when nurseries ask for next year’s summer annuals orders), though you could argue that it begins even earlier when our client relations managers are developing annuals contracts and forecasting their summer annuals sales. However, in terms of installation, May 16th is our official start of summer annuals. With the threat of frost largely behind us (although this past weekend was not indication of that), we begin rolling out the summer designs. There may be some fluctuation on this date based on weather, but by and large this is it.Read More
Earth Day is an opportunity to recognize the impact that we all have on the environment and the ways that we can protect and improve it. Gardens that are designed well using appropriate plant material, properly addressing water and drainage on site, and installed using best management practices are all aspects of a healthy environment (and a beautiful space). Even little changes can make a difference. Planting natives, or bee and butterfly attracting plants, and installing bird feeders or insect houses can be a small, but effective way to have a positive impact on the environment.Read More
It’s that time of the year again, the Masters at Augusta National are in full swing (ha! pun intended). Some people watch for the players and their amazing golf feats, but I tend to be more interested in the course setting. I longingly look at their blooming azaleas and dogwoods and wonder why I’ve committed myself to Chicago’s “winter-springs.”Read More
As much as I love Purple Coneflowers, Daisies, and Hostas, there is something to be said for the bold beauty of Hibiscus, Fuchsia, Elephant’s Ear, Persian Shield, and so many other non-hardy herbaceous plants. Summer annuals accent your garden with punches of color and textures that you cannot get with most perennials. The availability of extensive annual varieties allows you to fill in nearly any space in your garden, whether wet, dry, full-sun, or shade.
At Scott Byron & Co., Inc., our largest annuals season is summer and we have over 40,000 annual plants in nearly 850 different varieties and sizes in our yard at any given time that cycle through every two days or so. On average, we have over 300 summer annuals installations each year that are planted from about mid-May to mid-June. All these plants are ordered from our growers in December in anticipation of the summer annuals season. December may seem an unlikely time to plan for summer annuals, but our annuals are specifically grown for us and our clients so our growers need to know what to expect. In March, summer annuals are starting to be scheduled and grown so that they are at their peak at the time of installation. We get our annuals and tropical plants from the best growers nationwide and even abroad – Canada, California, and Florida for example. In fact, our tropicals grower provided approximately 90% of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s orchids for this year’s Orchid show earlier this year.
While a number of our clients love to have the same summer annuals each year, more or less, approximately 60% of projects are redesigned each year. It’s a very difficult job to plan, design, order, and schedule that many annuals with that much redesigning, but our plant buyers and client relations managers are experts that excel at the work they do. In addition to our own expertise, we also talk with our colleagues in the landscape industry about new varieties in order to determine which plants are working on site and which are struggling in our hot and humid summer climate.
With the spread of Impatiens Downy Mildew, one of our largest changes in annuals began last year when we switched from common Impatiens to Fibrous Begonias and Dragon Wing Begonias for a majority of our annual beds. The downy mildew causes the plants to wilt and die, sometimes quickly and other times lingering over a few weeks. Once the spores are in the soil, they can remain active for several years. While the loss of such a popular annual is disappointing, it has fostered a lot of creativity as we meet the challenge of designing new annuals beds.
Summer annuals are a fun and colorful way to experiment with your garden and to create unique and unexpected designs in your garden beds and especially in your garden containers. What better way to keep your garden in full bloom than with the addition of summer annuals. I feel like their cheerful presence makes July’s and August’s humidity and heat more bearable. The lawn may be going dormant, the perennials are in their last flush of blooms, and even I may be melting under the sun, but summer annuals persist.
If you’re anything like me, when winter’s grayness feels like it may actually be permanent and I’m despairing that it will always be jacket weather, I look to the garden for a glimpse of spring. The site of a tiny flower bursting through the frozen ground and half-melted snow makes me want to bury my jacket into the deepest depths of my closet. Finally! The end of winter is near and spring bulbs have arrived to transition your garden from winter into spring.
Planted in large massings and frequent bouquets, spring bulbs are cheerful and charming additions to your garden. The earliest blooming bulbs – Snowdrops, Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-Snow), Scilla, and Crocus – herald the end of winter and the beginning of spring. These small and delicate blooms are the perfect accompaniment for any garden transitioning from winter into spring and onto summer. Not only are they suitable for edging along walkways and planting beds, but they can also be planted into somewhat shadier locations since they bloom before trees leaf out and their fine-texture leaves don’t become intrusive as they fade and mid and late-spring bulbs take their place.
Following the site of Snowdrops and other early bloomers, you can expect to see Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, and Alliums gracing your gardens. These flowers make bold statements with their bright colors and larger sizes, making them ideal for back borders where smaller bulbs are harder to notice. Their vibrant colors aside, Daffodils are our most popular species of bulbs due to their ability to naturalize in an area and last for many years, as well as being an excellent selection for woodland edge plantings. With so many varieties to choose from, your garden can be awash with color for months.
Spring bulbs are a great way to extend your garden’s bloom time so why wait until May or June to bring your garden to life? If you notice that your garden is sadly lacking in spring bulbs, now is the time to plan for your fall plantings and with so many to choose from it can be challenging to know what works best for your landscape. Why not speak to one of our Property Improvement managers to help you decide what areas would benefit from bursts of color- whether it’s your front entry, rear border, along the sidewalk, or a view from your kitchen window? We’re here to help you at every stage of your garden’s development, including the planning and installation of bulbs, so that you get the most from your garden.