It’s the beginning of Summer in Northern Michigan. Spring bulbs are done for the year, and summer blooming perennials are starting their show. For some, this time of year brings a variety of colors, textures, and even scents into the landscape. For others, with less of a green thumb, their landscape may lack variety in colors or textures. An easy way to add more color and texture is with seasonal flowers or annuals. They will add color to any bare spot in your landscape. A grouping of pots or containers at the front entrance of your home, rear patio or outdoor entertainment space, giving each space a unique, colorful touch. However, before you buy all these seasonal flowers at your local greenhouse, let’s talk about a few of the basics when it comes to seasonal plantings…

Right Plant, Right Place… You may have heard this before pertaining to perennial or herbaceous plants, however, the same rule applies to annual plants. There are plants made for full sun, part sun, or full shade, as well as plants that are drought tolerant, and plants that require consistent watering. So, be sure to assess the location you wish to spruce up and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the plants you chose before bringing them home.

Thriller, Filler, Spiller… To explain this, let’s paint a picture. You have a large round planter you wish to place in the corner of your paver patio. But, where do you start when choosing plants? When designing your planter, start from the inside out. The thriller, should be the center of the planter and tallest in height. Next, the filler, shorter than the thriller, but still should contain some height along with a “bushing” effect. The filler will void the gap between the thriller and the spiller. The spiller does exactly what you’re probably thinking, it spills out of your planter, draping over the edges.

Spacing…When you’re planting annuals in your garden, consider planting your seasonal flowers in groupings to maximize the show of the flower, rather than lining them up like soldiers along the planting bed edge. You’ll make a much stronger statement to the neighborhood in a mass planting than in a single row of flowers. I suggest a triangle spacing in groupings, versus squared spacing. This is going to give you more character and diversity in your planting, giving the eye something different to look at as you scan over your plantings. Dare to be bold with your mass planting of seasonal flowers… you will notice the difference and your neighbors will too!

Colors… Be bold! Don’t be afraid to plant a red begonia next to a yellow wave petunia. Add a massing of contrasting and complimentary colors so they stand out with your landscape or against other seasonal flowers. Annual flowers only last one season, so… you only have a few months to enjoy them and the vibrant color they add to your landscape. The variety of seasonal flowers and colors may be overwhelming when you first walk in a greenhouse to select your flowers. Dare to be different. However, to make it less overwhelming, I might suggest you go into the greenhouse with a plan of the colors you might like to use that will complement each other and you landscape. The temptation to buy one of everything is very strong when you’ve spent six months of shoveling show and creating a grand plan for your yard. However, too much variety of colors may serve to confuse the eye and distract from your landscape. Be bold, but keep it simple and your house will be the envy of the neighborhood!

Textures… Same rule applies here as it did with colors…don’t be afraid to be bold. Annual plants can have fuzzy, shiny, pointy, round, thin, or thick leaves, stems, and petals. Mix it up! Seasonal planters are meant to stand out, so let them. Plant people in greenhouses all over the world work tirelessly developing different varieties of every seasonal flower we have to give us the range we, as consumers, desire. Take advantage of their hard work. The wonderful thing about seasonal planters is if you don’t like it this year, you know what you don’t want to do again next year! So, don’t be afraid to choose plants that you find to be cute, crazy, unique, or different.

So, now I would like to challenge you this planting season. Be bold. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to combine those non-traditional annual plants that catch your eye while walking through the greenhouse. Pick contrasting colors and textures, even though they might not “match” each other. When planting, create your own pattern by thinking of your spacing and how you are going to group together your different plants. Thrill, fill, and spill your way into creating a beautiful planter that is full of color, heights, and textures. Let your seasonal plantings make a statement in your landscape.