One memory I have from when I was a little girl is coming to the house where I live now, (which was my grandmother’s at the time) and seeing all of the beautiful flowers she had. I may never have flowers on the scale that she did, but some of the flowers she planted are still around. While I’d love to have beautiful well tended flower beds, most of my gardening energy goes towards growing fruits and vegetables.
But that doesn’t mean I have to give up flowers all together–by choosing easy care, hardy perennials, I can still have flowers without the fuss. Most of the yellow and white daffodils I have were planted by my grandmother.
The nice thing about them is they spread, so over time you can build up a larger bed than you started with. Most animals like squirrels and deer leave daffodils alone.
Just make sure you leave the green stems until they die back and turn brown–the stems feed the bulb underneath the soil, and by cutting them back too early, you may miss out on the blooms of next year. I’ve added some pink varieties to my yard.
We also have lots of iris, which is one of my favorite flowers. They come in so many different colors, and there are reblooming varieties now, so they can be enjoyed longer.
It’s obvious from these pictures my iris need to be weeded desperately. Mulching your plants will cut down the weeding time dramatically, and if you add a fresh layer of mulch in the early spring before anything grows, you shouldn’t have to weed much at all.
Iris also will multiply, and are extremely hardy. They’re very easy to transplant, and it’s best if you divide them every few years–I try and divide mine every five years or so.
Their leaves also need to be left to grow after the flowers fade, and are unappealing to animals too.
Peonies are known for living 50 years or more, and mine are probably 30+ years old.
I’d like to add a dark red/pink ones to balance out my white and light pinks (like these).
Don’t forget shrubs–we have both white and lavender lilac, which smells heavenly.
I’ve never done anything to the lilac, except cut out dead branches.
Crepe myrtle is so pretty–I keep mulch around it to cut down on mowing/weeding, and that’s it. It blooms in the late summer, which is nice to spread the blooms out a little with so many early spring flowers.
Our white hydrangea was planted by my grandmother, and it’s been here as long as I can remember. I actually moved it across the yard, and it never had a problem. I do nothing to it except keep it mulched as well. Hydrangea blooms are excellent for drying.
Butterfly bushes attract all kinds of butterflies and hummingbirds, and can be used as a privacy screen. Usually I don’t do anything to them except mulch, but sometimes if the winter has been hard (like this past year) all the branches will die, and the plant will come back up from the ground again, so the whole thing has to be cut back (as you can see below). My favorite colors of butterfly bush are purple and pink.
I have a rose of Sharon that is a three-in-one: it has pink, white and purple flowers all on one plant. (I assume a nursery grafted three different plants together to create this). I’ve never had to prune it, and just keep it mulched.
Speaking of mulch, we get all of ours from a city yard waste recycling center. It’s $5 a truckload, which is much less expensive than buying mulch by the bag from a home improvement store. You can drop off yard waste there for free, and if you purchase mulch, they will load it for you with a front loader. Hopefully other cities have similar programs.
Flowering trees also add to your yard, such as dogwood and redbud trees
Did you know that a great place to get plants is from your state conservation center? You can buy all kinds of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers for a fraction of the cost of traditional nurseries. We have purchased trees and shrubs this way, and they are usually quite small, so it may be the best option if you’d rather save money and wait longer for the plants to reach maturity.
Crabapple trees look so nice in the spring, and provide vibrant color for a few weeks.
We have a magnolia tree as well. Our magnolia tree is older than I am–my grandmother’s neighbors gave it to her when her brother passed away. It’s probably 50-70 feet tall now–they are kind of messy–they shed their leaves in the spring, but I forgive the mess when I smell the blossoms. I always bring them in one at a time to float in a bowl of water, and you can smell it all over the house.
In one corner of the yard is a holly tree I helped my grandmother plant when I was about 5 or 6. I usually trim a few branches to bring in the house during the holidays.
Last but not least are vines–purple wisteria covers our front fence, and has really taken off this year.
I have a love/hate relationship with honeysuckle. It’s invasive, and while I love having it grow on the fence by the driveway (it smells so good!), I’m constantly cutting it out of other plants, like our holly tree and butterfly bushes.
These are the flowers I have in my yard that are very low-maintenance. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to garden, investing just a little time can give you a yard full of flowers for years to come.