Annuals, Perennials, and Creating A Dreamy Garden

I've always wanted a beautiful garden. In my vision I'm about ten or fifteen years older, maybe some gray hair streaks here and there, and I'm in my garden pruning, potting, digging, and watering. While I love traveling and seeing new places, I'm much more of a homebody. So if we're not road-tripping to our next hiking destination, I'd like to be in my garden with my family nearby. 

If it seems like it would be a lot of work to have a beautiful garden, you're right, especially in the earlier years. But, if it's something you want, you should surely try. Here are a couple of recent things I've learned about planting a garden (and I'm not talking about a vegetable garden, I refer to "garden" as a blossoming yard full of wild style flowering shrubs, grasses, and other plants). 

1. Know about the different types of plants, annuals vs. perennials. (Biennials exist too...I'm still learning about these.)

Perennials in a nutshell are plants that are best to plant in the fall, and they come back year after year. If you purchase perennials that can live your growing zone (we live in zone 8) then they should be easy to care for. You'll want to check the watering and sun requirements as well. Perennials don't bloom as often as annuals. Perennials are the backbone of your garden, reliable.

Annuals die after one year (typically). They are usually more colorful plants, full of blossoms, and will continue to bloom from spring into the fall, but they won't come back. Annuals are likely to cost less because of their fickleness. Annuals are basically decorative.  

I prefer perennials because they look more organic and wild (at least the ones we have here in north Texas). I do like that they come back the next year, it creates less work and it's more rewarding. What I will do is purchase a couple of annuals in the spring and a couple more in the fall to add more color to my garden. 

2. Choose a small space to get started

We moved into our home in the spring of 2016, and didn't do any landscaping until that fall. Our backyard is still bare, because we focused on our tiny front yard garden space. This space receives the harshest, afternoon, Texas sun, so it was a great place to get started. If I can keep plants alive in this space, the backyard should be easier. 

Before you go crazy and start your landscaping, consider one small space, broaden your garden each planting season if things are growing well. 

3. Plant perennials first

It's recommended to plant them in the fall, but if not, start with 2-3 and nurture them from Spring through Fall. In the winter you don't really have to do anything. Some you can trim back, others you'll leave alone, get to know these few, become an expert. You'll want to plant them with enough spacing to allow for future growth. 

In the fall purchase a couple more perennials and add them to your garden. All of these perennials will come back the following spring. 

4. Add a few annuals

Once you have your perennials in the ground add a few annuals, you can do this both in the spring and in the fall. Sometimes, since I know my annuals are going to pass on after the fall, I'll plant them in pots and add them to our garden instead of actually putting them into the ground. This just depends on your personal landscaping style. 

5. Keep a garden journal

This is very simple, and will become a great resource for you. You can either sketch your plants or take photos of them, but keep them in your journal to record growing habits, watering needs, flowering dates, etc. As the years pass you can simply refer to your journal and make better decisions about what to plant next. You may also want to diagram your garden to record where you've planted bulbs and seeds (if you ever decide to plant these). 

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." -Audrey Hepburn