Table of Contents

Year-Round Interest: Plants for Four Seasons of Color

Endless Lavender Enchantment

Oh, lavenders – how I adore thee! As a garden designer for over 20 years, I can honestly say that lavenders are a staple in at least 90% of the gardens I create. And for good reason! These low-maintenance, deer-resistant perennials offer so much year-round appeal.

However, I’ve noticed that many gardeners tend to stick to the same old lavender varieties, completely missing out on the wide array of captivating options available. What a shame! That’s why I’m excited to share my personal lavender favorites that will keep your garden bursting with color and fragrance from the first spring blooms to the final winter whispers.

Springtime Sensations

Let’s start with the energetic Spanish lavenders, some of the earliest to bloom in my garden – often as early as March. These flowers with their distinctive “rabbit ear” blooms are a firm favorite among children and adults alike. With a delightful eucalyptus-like fragrance, they can even handle a bit more humidity than other lavender varieties.

One of my go-to Spanish lavenders is the stunning Javelin Forte White. Despite its name, this beauty is actually a gorgeous lavender-pink color, with flowers that go through a mesmerizing color transformation throughout the season. The large, loose blooms and lush, branching habit make it a perfect fit for a more casual, romantic garden setting.

Another Spanish lavender that’s always a showstopper is the common variety. The bees simply can’t get enough of these bright purple blooms – I’ve counted up to 50 honeybees on a single plant! With its rabbit-ear bracts and subtle chartreuse-green hue, this lavender adds a delightful touch of whimsy to any garden bed.

Summer Serenade

As the temperatures climb, it’s time to welcome the classic English lavenders to the stage. These smaller, more compact plants with their tight, barrel-shaped flower clusters are hardy enough to thrive even in zone 5 gardens.

My absolute favorite English lavender is the deep purple-blue Hidcote. Give it a few years to establish, and you’ll be amazed by the sea of fragrant blooms it produces. Bonus points for Hidcote’s ability to withstand hot summers better than most other English lavenders – a real lifesaver in my garden.

Another stunning English lavender is Blue Spear, boasting showy flowers that are larger than those of Hidcote. While the tiny leaves of English lavenders can make them appear a bit lackluster in the off-season, they more than make up for it with their early spring burst of delicate, pollinator-attracting flowers.

Autumn Allure

As the summer heat gives way to the crisp autumn air, it’s time to welcome the lavandins to the spotlight. These lavender hybrids, a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, typically bloom during the hottest days of summer and have a higher essential oil content, making them ideal for perfumes and aromatherapy.

One of the most well-known lavandins is Provence, a variety I’ve used extensively over the years. The larger leaves of the lavandins mean they don’t look quite as bare during the winter months as their English cousins.

Another long-blooming lavender that shines in the autumn garden is the French lavender, Lavandula dentata. With its toothed foliage and rapid growth to a staggering 3×5 feet, this variety is a great option for gardeners who want a lavender that maintains its appeal throughout the year. If you have a client who absolutely can’t stand the idea of a lavender looking “half-dead” in the winter, the French lavender is the way to go.

Winter Wonders

As the rest of the garden slumbers, there’s one lavender that refuses to disappear into the background – the captivating Jagged Lavender, Lavandula pinnata buchii. This tender beauty blooms from December through April, and often continues to flower sporadically throughout the rest of the year. While it may not tolerate temperatures below 30°F, its fast growth means it can be used as an annual in colder climates, with the option of bringing it indoors during cold snaps.

The Jagged Lavender’s soft, finely dissected foliage in a stunning green-gray hue looks beautiful even when not in bloom, providing winter interest that’s hard to match. I love seeing its candelabra-shaped flowers towering above the rest of my winter garden, providing a much-needed dose of color and fragrance.

The Year-Round Superstar

But perhaps the true lavender champion in my garden is the enigmatic Lavandula Meerlo. Now, here’s the catch – I’ve never seen this variety actually bloom. Not once! Yet, it remains one of my absolute favorites, all thanks to its incredibly fragrant, lush foliage that never fails to impress, even in the depths of winter.

The variegated leaves of Meerlo, with their gray-green centers and creamy yellow margins, create a soft, eye-catching display that stops gardeners in their tracks. Unlike many other variegated lavenders, the foliage on Meerlo retains its stunning color year after year, without reverting to a dull green. And the fragrance? Heavenly! I can’t resist clipping a few sprigs to bring into the house, where the aroma instantly envelops the room.

So, while Meerlo may not be the showiest lavender in terms of flowers, its unparalleled foliage and year-round appeal make it an indispensable addition to my garden. If you’re looking for a lavender that will provide continuous interest and fragrance, regardless of the season, Meerlo is undoubtedly worth a try.

Harmonious Lavender Combinations

Now, let’s talk about how to create a truly captivating lavender display in your own garden. Adrienne, you mentioned having a triangular space approximately 5 feet on each side – the perfect spot to showcase a harmonious blend of different lavender varieties.

I’d suggest starting with a mid-sized Spanish lavender, like the Javelin Forte White, as the centerpiece. Its long bloom time and striking appearance will ensure a stunning focal point. Then, surround it with a selection of dwarf English lavenders, such as Hidcote, Munstead, or Thumbelina. These smaller, 2×2 foot plants will create a lovely, cascading border at the front of the display.

To add a touch of summer drama, consider placing a large Provence-type lavender in the middle, complementing the Spanish variety. And if you have the space, you could even incorporate the evergreen beauty of Meerlo, placing it in the center with the smaller English lavenders in the front.

This combination will ensure continuous blooms and year-round interest, with each variety complementing the others in terms of size, color, and bloom time. Your neighbors are sure to be enchanted by this lavender wonderland!

Lavender Lessons Learned

Of course, growing lavenders successfully does come with a few caveats. Kathryn, I’m sorry to hear that some of your English lavenders in North Carolina have turned brown. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact issue without seeing them, but the humidity in your zone 7b climate may be the culprit.

I’d suggest trying a more humidity-tolerant variety, like Phenomenal, or even exploring the Spanish lavenders, which tend to perform better in areas with higher moisture levels. And Lin, for your own lavender endeavors in North Carolina, the Meerlo or Spanish lavenders could be great options to consider.

As for pruning, it’s important to be cautious, especially with the more woody English and French varieties. I generally recommend cutting back no more than a third of the plant, as lavenders don’t respond well to heavy, hard pruning. Keep an eye out for my upcoming video, where I’ll demonstrate the best techniques for maintaining your lavenders in tip-top shape.

Embracing the Lavender Abundance

When it comes to lavenders, the possibilities are truly endless. From the captivating Jagged Lavender that brightens up my winter garden to the ever-reliable Meerlo with its year-round fragrance, there’s a lavender variety to suit every gardener’s needs.

So, why not take a step beyond the traditional Hidcote and Provence, and explore the wide world of lavender wonders? Your garden – and your senses – will thank you. And who knows, you might just discover your new personal lavender obsession, just as I have.

After all, as the saying goes, “good things come to those who lavender.” Okay, maybe I made that one up, but the sentiment still stands – embrace the lavender abundance, and your garden will be all the more enchanting for it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some lavender wands to craft. That 10-year-old fragrance isn’t going to maintain itself, you know! Happy gardening, my friends. Today’s Gardens awaits your floral masterpieces.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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