10 Landscaping Ideas for Flower Beds

Creating Year-Round Color

If you'd like to create a yard with year-round color, perhaps you'll find just the plant amongst my landscaping ideas for flower beds to round out your design. Below I tell you about ten plants I grow in my own zone-5 landscape that give me many months of floral color. Add some evergreens to your landscaping to supplement these flowers, and you can have visual interest in your yard virtually 365 days a year. Click any of the images to access detailed information about the plant in...MORE question.

Elsewhere I relate how planting trees and shrubs can provide year-round color, through their form and foliage as well as through their flowers. But in the present resource I'm focusing more on perennials; I'm also ignoring foliage for the most part, so as to highlight specifically plants with colorful and timely flower displays.

I say "timely" because the information below is organized according to season. My goal is to supply you with ideas to achieve non-stop sequence of bloom. For the sake of variety I tried to work as many different colors into my ten picks as possible.

  • 01 of 10
    Adonis flowers are yellow in color. And if you do not believe me, check out this picture.
    Picture of Adonis flowers. David Beaulieu

    Of course, the greatest number of choices will be found in spring and summer. Consequently, six of my ten picks bloom within that six-month period, beginning in March. Nonetheless, as you'll see below, I offer four solid choices to carry cold-climate gardeners through fall and winter.

    Early spring is a magical time of year. Some of the first plants to greet us with flowers during this period are bulb plants. You're probably familiar with many of these and value them for their...MORE precociousness. But are you ready to think outside the box? Are you willing to consider a new idea for that early-spring flower bed? Consider that hunk with the yellow petals, Adonis.

  • 02 of 10
    Picture of Dicentra cucullaria. Also known as Dutchman's breeches, it's a spring ephemeral.
    Picture of Dicentra cucullaria. David Beaulieu

    Bulb plants are wonderful, but there's at least one drawback to growing them: after their blooms have faded and dropped off, your flower bed is still left with their leaves. Nor should you remove the leaves until they have turned brown, because, as long as they're green, they're sending much-needed nutrition down to the bulbs. Here's the problem: these leaves, which are no longer attractive at this time, make for an eyesore in your landscaping.

    True, there are workarounds. Some...MORE gardeners grow perennials in front of their bulb plants that will screen the unsightly leaves of the latter. But what if you don't feel like going through the trouble of doing that? Well, Dutchman's breeches offers an alternative.

    There's a reason these plants are classed as "spring ephemerals": namely, they don't last for long. They put on their unique flowering display in April (here in New England, at least), then disappear. That's right: poof! No ugly, gangly foliage you have to leave standing around cluttering up your flower bed.

    By the way, Dutchman's breeches are related to bleeding hearts, which offer a better-known choice for landscaping in mid-spring.

  • 03 of 10
    Picture of peony flower. As this peony flower photo shows, some of these perennials are burgundy.
    Picture of peony flower. David Beaulieu

    Most gardeners are well aware of the value that the traditionally-grown peonies (Paeonia lactiflora) bring to your flower beds in May. But if you're looking for an idea that may be new to you, consider so-called "tree peonies" (Paeonia suffruticosa). No, they're not really trees. In fact, although they're classified as "sub-shrubs," they function more or less as perennials in your flower beds. Whether you grow P. lactiflora or P. suffruticosa, you can count on...MORE colorful blooms large enough to turn heads.

  • 04 of 10
    Picture: Mango Popsicle is part of the Popsicle Series of red hot poker plants.
    Mango Popsicle is part of Terra Nova Nurseries' Popsicle Series, featuring red hot poker plants in different colors. David Beaulieu

    The weather warms up considerably in June in my region. So does the flower bed, because that's when my torch lilies (also called "red hot poker plants") come into bloom. The image I happened to choose (left) is of a type with mango-orange coloration, but they bloom in a number of different colors. As long-blooming perennials, the color they bring to your landscaping extends through late summer.

    Sticking with the orange theme for early summer, a selection that is reddish-orange is Fireb...MOREird coneflower.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Pink Stargazer lily image. Not new to the trade, they're as eye-popping as ever.
    Stargazer lilies aren't new but they're just as eye-opening every time I see them. David Beaulieu

    July is lily month. If you don't grow Stargazer, specifically, at least try growing one of the other types. Sure, some people regard them as "tired," but the rewards they offer are still as great as ever. This includes the fact that they are among the most fragrant of flowers.

    Easter lilies, incidentally, despite their common name, bloom at this time in the Northeastern U.S. if you grow them in your landscaping (as opposed to buying greenhouse stock).

  • 06 of 10
    Picture of variegated garden phlox. As photo shows, variegated phlox is two-toned.
    Picture of variegated garden phlox. David Beaulieu

    Late summer is when the floral baton is handed to some of the old standbys, including garden phlox or "tall" phlox. The kind I show in my image at left ('Nora Leigh') is something of an oddity, bearing both variegated leaves and flowers.

    Black-eyed susan is another old-timer that supplies ample landscaping color in late summer. Not only do its blooms last a long time, but it is also a drought-tolerant perennial, which comes in handy in the scorching heat of August.

  • 07 of 10
    My picture shows a fall on montauk daisy. Leaves may be marred by brown spots.
    If you keep your plant cut back during the summer, it will shine brightest in fall. Unhappily, the normally splendid foliage may be marred by brown spots. David Beaulieu

    Autumn needn't represent a "fall from grace" in terms of color in your flower beds, even if you live in a cold climate. Montauk daisy is one option you have to extend floral color well into autumn. As for all the picks on this list, you can access my article on this plant (which is also called "Nippon daisy") via the link above the image (left). Among other things, I relate in my article how to care for Montauk daisy so as to gear it to a fall blooming.

  • 08 of 10
    Picture: Candy Oh! rose, with its bright red flowers.
    Picture of Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose bush in full bloom. David Beaulieu

    Although they're shrubs rather than perennials, I also want to mention Candy Oh! roses in this context. They furnish your flower beds with blossoms at a time of year when many shrubs are valued more for their fall-foliage color. As "landscape roses," they're low-maintenance, but that's not their only good quality. If you care about creating year-round color, you'll love the fact that they bloom deep into autumn. And because they're amenable to pruning, you don't...MORE have to be afraid to prune them aggressively so as to keep them small in your flower beds.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    My picture shows how gorgeous heather is when in flower.
    The heath that I grow blooms for an extraordinarily long time. David Beaulieu

    "Flowers for winter" sounds like an oxymoron if you're a New Englander like me, unless we're talking about interiorscaping. But winter heath is the exception to the rule. This plant, which is related to heather, begins blooming in November for me and continues to bloom right through the winter months of December, January and February, and even on into spring.

    True, winter heath's flowers are tiny. But what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. Besides, any flower...MORE that blooms outdoors in winter for me here in my cold climate is appreciated, regardless of its size. Winter heath is a small shrub -- small enough that it will fit right into your flower bed as if it were a perennial.

  • 10 of 10
    Picture of winter jasmine plants. Winter jasmine can bloom during the coldest months of the year.
    Picture of winter jasmine plants. David Beaulieu

    There are many kinds of jasmine. The one I grow -- and this will come as no surprise to you if you've been following along -- is called "winter jasmine." I grow it in a sheltered spot, and it rewards me with blooms in February. That brings us full circle, because I began with a plant (Adonis) that blooms for me in March.

    Winter jasmine is another of my picks that's a shrub (it could also be classified as a vine) but that can be easily maintained at a small size via pruning (or...MORE shearing, in this case).

    Now that you have some good landscaping ideas for flower beds, maybe you could use a little help with the mechanics? If so, have a look at my tutorial on planting flower beds.