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5 Easy Ways to Design a Garden That’s Always in Bloom

Looking for ways to grow a flower garden that’s always in bloom? Here are 5 easy ways to design an everblooming colorful garden.

(Post updated 3/2/2022)

Before we chat about flower garden design, it’s important to understand that I live in New Jersey, gardening zone 6a.

What grows well for me here may or may not grow well for you where you live. So whenever I mention certain plants that I grow in my garden, keep that in mind.

After a long, wet, and cold winter here, the arrival of spring is like a breath of fresh air.

It’s a thrill to see the garden peek through the ground in the early days of spring.

And it’s even better when it’s blooming, am I right?

I spent several years honing my flower gardens so something is always blooming and changing.

And I’m sharing my design secrets with you today.

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5 Easy Ways to Design a Garden That’s Always in Bloom

With my new gardens here at our new-to-us home, I am starting a whole new everblooming cottage garden from scratch.

I want to grow similar gardens to what I had at my former home.

(To see what my flower gardens looked like at my former home, CLICK HERE.)

Most of the gardens here are filled with plants and flowers already, so I’m not disturbing many of the beds here until I see what grows.

But there is one bed by the pool that was covered in groundcover.

So we pulled it all out and are getting the bed ready to grow flowers.

Lots of flowers.

Anyway, I am starting some flowers from seed like I did last year in my sunroom so I can grow a cut flower garden in this new bed.

(To learn how to grow a cut flower garden, CLICK HERE.)

As I’m planning the new garden, I’m considering all of the things to keep this bed blooming from early spring through fall.

It’s not difficult to grow a flower garden that’s always in bloom.

But it does require some pre-planning and research.

Here’s what you need to know.

Choose a Location

While there are lots of shade-tolerant plants that bloom, a majority of flowering plants need sun.

That’s not to say you can’t get a lot of colors in a shade garden, but you’ll be playing more with foliage and texture to get that look.

If your property has a lot of shade, consider cutting some branches back to bring in more sunlight.

To learn how to start a new garden, CLICK HERE.

To learn how to start a garden the easy way, CLICK HERE.

My Early Spring in the Garden Tour

The Soil Matters

One of the smartest things you can do before growing any garden is to test your soil.

Understanding your soil will help you know what it needs and how plants will grow.

5 easy ways to design a garden that's always in bloom - pansies and mystotis

Soil test kits are widely available at nurseries and big box stores.

But it’s best to reach out to your local cooperative extension because the test kits are better and they can help you interpret the results.

That said, in addition to testing the soil, it’s important to add organic matter to keep the soil healthy.

So adding compost, leaf mold, and mulch will help improve the health of your soil.

To learn how to make compost, CLICK HERE.

To learn how to make leaf mold CLICK HERE.

happy gardening with climbing roses and an obelisk

When Flowers Bloom

After your garden is ready, it’s time to plant flowers that will grow at different times throughout the growing season.

So consider when flowers bloom.

You’ll have your spring, summer, and fall blooms.

And flowers in between.

dividing perennials - echinops, echinacea and monarda

Length of Bloom Time

To keep the garden blooming from spring through fall, I consider the length and timing of bloom while mixing in some evergreen shrubs and trees so I have year-round interest, color, and texture.

When I design a garden, I prefer low-maintenance plants that will give me more bang for my buck.

Some flowers will bloom for several weeks, while others will last much less.

Consider how long plants bloom so there is some overlap in the flowers.

But even with this consideration, there will still be lulls in the borders.

So it’s important to plant spring and fall annuals to provide color throughout the growing season.

gardening zone 6a summer flowers

Protecting Plants from From Deer Damage

New Jersey is deer country where deer are known to decimate gardens.

Because I live in New Jersey, I design gardens with deer-resistant plantings and spray the high-risk plants.

While I typically lean towards deer-resistant plantings, I do plant some things that require a little more protection.

My cut flower garden - How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery

CLICK HERE for my 7 best secrets to keep deer from eating your garden plants.

For a deer-resistant plant list, CLICK HERE.

In addition to the deer resistance list, I spray high-risk plants with  Deer Out 40oz Ready-To-Use Deer Repellent.

I swear by this stuff because I use it all the time and it works for me.

Since this bottle is about one application for my gardens, I also buy the concentrated form Deer Out 32oz Concentrate Deer Repellent then use the smaller bottle as the applicator because I prefer walking around with a smaller, lighter bottle.

dinner plate dahlia
Dinnerplate Dahlia

While the bottle has application directions, I am more aggressive with the spray schedule for higher-risk plants.

I start spraying them when they emerge from the ground, then again about one-two weeks later, depending on the growth.

I spray every three-four weeks after.

This method has worked for me for years and if you try it, I hope it works for you too.

garden nj shade garden

Wait Until You See My Front Yard Cottage Garden Bloom Throughout the Growing Season

Since we are talking about designing a garden that’s always in bloom, let’s look back at my former front yard cottage garden because that bed was designed to grow, change, and bloom all season long.

Wait until you see how pretty it looks throughout the growing season!

After deadheading flowers

When we added a second story to our three-bedroom ranch home several years ago, this garden was non-existent.

I started it from very small plantings and through the years, some plants have thrived while others have failed.

I just let the garden do what it wanted to do. 

Everblooming hydrangea in my jersey garden

If a plant did really well, I let it do its thing.

If a plant didn’t do much or didn’t have the impact I was looking for, it was relocated or died out.

Note to all the self-prescribed black thumbers out there: not all plants do well – even to the best of gardeners. When plants don’t thrive, it just wasn’t meant to be. Some plants are fussier than others and sometimes the conditions in our yards or homes are not conducive for certain plants. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased plants that died out in the first two months after planting or received plants from fellow gardeners that grew in abundance in their yards but did not survive in mine. It happens, so go easier on yourself. There are less fussy, easier care plant options out there that will give you greater success.

Early Spring in the Cottage Garden

My Front Yard Cottage Garden in Spring

In early spring, the flowering crabapple tree, viburnum, purple creeping phlox, tulips, and daffodils start to bloom.

Here you see some red tulips and yellow daffodils.

I wish I could tell you the varieties but they were planted so long ago and well before I started documenting the gardens.

Since tulips are highly susceptible to deer damage, I spray them weekly during their growth until the petals begin to drop.

It might seem a little excessive, but no deer have damaged my tulips.

So it’s a very effective method of protecting susceptible plants.

Frontyard Cottage Garden in spring

Other perennials are starting to emerge and grow quickly.

The flowering plum tree is a show stopper every spring and smells heavenly!

Sadly, it only blooms for a few days but when it does…wow!

Early Spring in the Garden

Early spring about a week and a half later: The daffodils are done and the tulip blooms are stunning as they begin to drop.

The yellow winter pansies bounced back and are picking up some hints of yellow in the garden (I spray these as well).

Purple allium Globemaster is just starting to bloom as the rest of the perennials are beginning to fill in.

As the allium varieties fade out and die back, the catmint, midnight salvia, and siberian iris start to take over.

I love this time in the garden with the brilliant hues of blues and purples, don’t you?

Designing a Garden That's Always in Bloom

As we move through spring, the perennials start to come in and bloom more.

The last of the alliums are still blooming, the red knock-out roses, midnight salvia, catmint, bearded iris, siberian iris, and bright orange poppies are in full bloom.

The garden is heavily scented now.

There are patches of lambs ear that add a soft white texture to the garden.

spring cleaning in the garden

We are also starting to see butterflies, hummingbirds, and bumblebees.

Allium is a beautiful deer-resistant bulb from the onion family.

When planted en masse in a border, the results are stunning.

I love the color combination of nepeta (catmint) and these oriental poppies.

Both plants are highly deer resistant.

The Front Yard Cottage Garden in Summer

As we head into summer, the roses echinacea, beebalm, butterfly weed, balloon flower, and daylilies bring a bright, fresh color pallet.

Butterflies and hummingbirds are very attracted to this garden and visit often.

deadheading flowers

As summer progresses, the garden starts to look a little untidy.

The catmint’s color is fading, the orange butterfly weed, bee balm, white balloon flower, white and purple echinacea, and pink phlox continue to kick up the summer color.

I like to cut back the catmint and a few other perennials that are fading to encourage a second bloom.

My gardening zone 6a summer flowers

Late summer in the border continues to bring many butterflies, hummingbirds, and bumblebees to the garden.

To learn how to grow a butterfly garden, CLICK HERE.

HERE’s a great easy-care plant list that butterflies love.

And if you want to learn more about how to grow a garden that attracts hummingbirds? CLICK HERE.

For 9 gorgeous plants that attract hummingbirds, CLICK HERE.

On a side note, people get concerned about the bees, but bees are beneficial and friendly.

Yellowjackets are not bees – so don’t confuse them with honey bees.

In current bloom are black-eyed Susans, tall phlox, and a few echinacea varieties.

Designing a Garden That's Always in Bloom
Close-up of echinacea, globe thistle, and bee-balm. All three summer blooming plants are great deer-resistant plantings.

The Front Border Garden in Fall

As the summer blooms fade, I start cutting them back and add some fall-colored annuals to keep the color going through the rest of the growing season.

My fall favorite, pee gee hydrangea tree is starting to bloom and the sedum ‘autumn joy,’ which is super easy to grow and propagate, is starting to change color.

rustic farmhouse fall home tour
How my garden nj is changing for fall
garden nj with zinnias

Final Thoughts

What do you think of the gardens?

I hope you enjoyed touring my favorite garden.

I spent a lot of time planning, planting, and growing this garden to bloom from early spring through fall.

Thank you for stopping by the blog today.

9 ways to prepare the garden for winter

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Designing a Garden That's Always in Bloom

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

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2019 Weekly Garden Tour

To get a closer look at my gardens during the growing season, I documented and photographed the beds in 2019. It’s amazing how much the gardens changed since then, but here’s the tour if you’d like to check it out.

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  1. Please could you tell me the names of the flowers in the last picture on this site the ones with the pig. The combination is perfect and beautiful!

    1. Hi Jeanette! Thank you!!! The bright fuschia to the right is a chrsyanthemum – I have never seen one that color before. The bright yellow flowers are a rudbekia annual. The deep purple flowers, I don’t recall offhand, but when I see them at the nursery, I will add to this reply to let you know. The light pink flowers to the left and behind the purple flowers are sedum autumn joy. I hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. You do such a great job of explaining how to get a gorgeous garden that I *almost* think I could do it? But it’s still so overwhelming! I think I just need you to come down here for a week or two to help me get it going… 🙂