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Susquehanna Life

How to Create a Colorful, Four-Season Landscape This Spring

Mar 30, 2018 10:57AM ● By Erica Shames

By Ambrose Hill

The biggest challenge to any landscaper is to provide color to a landscape in all four seasons. Most plants either bloom for only a few short weeks, bloom only in spring or summer or are over-used in the landscape.

Fortunately there are some plants that defy these odds, and can be used to beautify the landscape all year long—even during the most challenging seasons.

 1. Spring

When we think of landscapes in spring, we are inclined to think of daffodils and tulips; but there are many other plants that can herald the approach of spring. One of the first shrubs to bloom is the vernal witch hazel. The witch hazel, a native plant to Pennsylvania, explodes with yellow and orange blossoms in late February and early March and grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet. 

Another early bloomer, the hellebores, grows 1 to 2 feet tall and pushes profuse clusters of purple, pink, and white flowers between February and March. This perennial prefers well-drained soil and a shaded location.

The Japanese Pieris is an early spring blooming shrub that sends forth a proficient array of pink and white blossoms that weep down the plant, resembling a magnificent waterfall. Depending upon the variety that you choose, the pieris can grow to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

2.      Summer

Landscaping for summer interest can be just as difficult as gardening in any other month. However, some plants can do well in most any landscape with very few disease and insect pressures. Echinacea is an easy choice. This radiant flower blooms from May to September and depending upon the cultivar can grow from 8 to 36 inches in height. This plant can tolerate almost any conditions, though it does prefer a moderate amount of sunlight. During most of the year, it is covered with either white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, or red blossoms.

The hardy hibiscus, the exotic, tropical flower of the northern United States, is an amazing addition to any landscape. This sun-loving herbaceous perennial is low maintenance and can range in height and width from 3 to 7 feet.  This unusual plant’s blossoms can range in size from 3 to five inches, and in color from red to pink, or white to purple from July through September.

The radiant potentilla or cinquefoil is a hardy shrub that produces beautiful yellow, orange, white, or pink clusters of blossoms from June through September, covering the plant with spectacular color. This awesome plant can thrive in conditions ranging from part-sun to part-shade, allowing it to represent almost any garden planting.

 3.      Autumn

It’s fun to replicate the cool, relaxing breath of autumn with cool colors in your garden. The Bluebeard is an excellent portrait of blue and purple blossoms, present in August, instantly capturing the attention of the viewer. This magnificent perennial produces a dense mound of dark foliage topped with 3-inch blue spikes.  Bluebeard is extremely low maintenance, resisting deer, while attracting honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies.

The Brandywine Viburnum is more noted for its berries than its flowers. In June, the gardener will notice that the shrub has produced a fair number of white flowers, but the biggest show arrives in August when the plant bursts forth a breathtaking array of pink, red and purple berries that attracts birds from far and wide.

Finally, we reach the monarch of the fall flowering display, the panniculata hydrangea. 

The panniculata hydrangea, blooming from August through early October is a sight of grandeur for the viewer. This plant, growing from 3 to 8 feet in height and width, produces a breathtaking display of pink, white and yellow flowers.

4.      Winter

The winter is one of the most challenging seasons to provide beauty and color to your landscape; however there are several plants that can help to beautify your landscape, even while the snow flies.

 The Winterberry Holly is a woody shrub native to Pennsylvania. This shrub produces large red berries in late fall, which can be retained for most of the winter. These berries are coveted by many songbirds, making this plant a good choice for the bird watching gardener.

Pyracantha or Firethorn is an upright shrub that can grow in size from 8 to 18 feet and produces both a showy flower and berry. Its flowers are white, while the berries are orange and red. The berries are the perfect choice for the bird enthusiast, for the bountiful crop that this plant produces will encourage flocks of birds to visit your landscape.

Winter Heath (Erica carnea) is a small evergreen perennial that grows in height from 8 to 24 inches. This is one of the year’s earliest blooming plants, for it produces blossoms as early as January and can bloom until March. Its flowers can be either white or pink and is an absolutely stunning addition to any landscape.

From spring to winter, these twelve amazing shrubs and perennials can help to shape and define your landscaping—from a pollinator habitat and a bird’s paradise, and most of all a nook of relaxation for you, the gardener, to enjoy.

Ambrose Hill, owner of Country GardenLandscaping LLC, is a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology with an associate’s degree in horticulture. Country Garden Landscaping serves the Susquehanna Valley with landscape maintenance (mulching, edging, weeding, spring and fall cleanup); landscape design; landscape installation; lawncare; and plant healthcare (diagnosing and treating trees and shrubs that are being attacking by insects and diseases). 

Call Country Garden Landscaping LLC at (570) 648-4057 for a free estimate. Facebook: countrygardenlandscapingllc. The Web:

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