Magazine article Sunset

Head-Start Gardening

Magazine article Sunset

Head-Start Gardening

Article excerpt

Having a colorful garden in all seasons takes planning. Now is the time to start

In January, color catalogs flood your mailbox, their glossy photographs of frothy pink-flowering trees, plump lilac and peony blooms, and dewy roses tempting you to buy, buy, buy. But hold on. Instead of ordering one of this or that-whatever captures your fancy-add some method to the madness. By determining which plants bloom at the same time and which ones complement the colors on the trees, shrubs, and bulbs already growing in your garden, you can combine them in striking vignettes.

To get you started, the seasonal chart at right lists some of the Mountain West's most stellar color makers, along with their flower colors, bloom times, and a few of our favorite ways to use them. Try the combinations as listed or let them serve as guidelines for pairing plants of your own choice.

Before you buy, spend some time at the nursery mixing and matching flower and foliage colors. Begin with a favorite plant-one that you want to anchor the garden's palette. Then use a cart to move it next to other kinds to find the best pairings. (Make sure companion plants have the same water and sunlight requirements.)

Don't forget to factor white- and blue-flowered annuals and perennials into your planting scheme; both do a great job of cooling off and separating drifts of hot-colored plants, as do gray-foliaged plants such as santolina and artemisia.

Note: The time when plants will actually bloom depends upon the weather, how early or late you plant them, and where you live. …

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