Looking for ways to design a garden that’s always in bloom? Keep reading for my best tips and favorite flowers to keep the color going through the spring to summer transition in the garden.

One of the most common mistakes newer gardeners make is not planning for the transition from spring to summer. Many assume that once flowers start blooming in spring, they’ll see consistent color and beautiful blooms all the way through until fall.

But even in the most colorful flower gardens, there will always be natural lulls when one season ends and another begins. I usually see this kind of lull start to happen in my garden here in New Jersey in mid-May.

That’s when my early spring bulbs are almost done and starting to die back. At the same time, my summer blooming flowers typically aren’t ready to start blooming.

So, do we have to just settle for a less colorful garden transitioning from spring to summer? Not at all! I’ve learned over the years that some careful planning, strong garden design and the right combination of plants can create an ever-blooming garden that transitions seamlessly between the seasons.

Keep reading to see what plants help the garden through the spring to summer transition. As you plant your gardens in spring, this will help you think about the flowers that will ease the transition between seasons and keep your blooms going.

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When to Plant Summer Blooming Flowers

Much like we start planning for our early spring bulbs and perennials in the fall, it’s important to plan ahead for the transition from spring to summer. If you wait until spring to start planning your summer garden, you’re much more likely to have a gap between your early spring blooms and your summer blooms.

Instead, I start working on my early summer garden over the winter. You can get a jump on growing annual summer blooms by starting seeds indoors over the winter and slowly transitioning the plants out to the garden (a process called “hardening off” your plants) as it gets closer to the summer growing season.

I have an entire series on the blog all about starting seeds indoors, including all the supplies you’ll need and step-by-step instructions on how to do it well.

You can also leverage perennials that bloom in early summer to transition the garden into the new season without having to do more new planting.

Planning for the Spring to Summer Transition in the Garden

One of the most important parts of the spring to summer transition in the garden is not just what to plant, but where to plant it. You can start working on your garden design plans in winter or when planting spring bulbs in the fall.

Think about what the garden will look like at the peak of spring blooming, but also make sure to consider how it will look as your spring bulb plants start to die back.

Consider Companion Planting

Companion planting spring bulbs with perennials that bloom in late spring and early summer can be a great strategy to ease the transition between seasons. 

As the bulb plants finish blooming, early summer perennials can add a fresh burst of color and help hide the dead foliage left behind by your bulbs (remember, it’s important to keep this foliage intact until it has fully died back if you want your bulbs to grow next year).

Fill In with Summer Annuals

Your summer annuals can then come in to support the perennial plants and fill out your garden as the warmer season continues. If you started these seeds indoors like I recommended above, they’ll be ready to go for planting as your bulbs plants start fading.

Don’t Forget Container Gardening

Container planting is another fantastic way to transition the garden from spring to summer. Plant summer blooms in patio pots, window boxes and other containers for flowering plants you can easily move around.

While containers look beautiful on a deck, patio or porch, they can also be used throughout your garden to fill in any empty spots.

Garden Design Ideas: The Best Plants for the Spring to Summer Transition

When the early spring-flowering bulbs and perennials start to fade, you want fresh blooms to take over that will take the garden well into summer.

While annuals are a great place to keep the color and flowers going through the growing season, sometimes we want plants that will come back year after year.

Here is a list of some easy-care spring garden flowers that will bloom into summer.

Salvia

Salvias are beautiful flowering plants that prefer full sun growing conditions. They come in a variety of colors, including red, white, pink, purple, yellow and blue. Salvia plants also feature really beautiful foliage, with lance-shaped leaves that vary in color from deep green to silver-gray, depending on the species. This can really help fill in any spring-to-summer gaps in a garden.

And if you cut them back after the first sets of flowers fade, you can get another set of blooms.

Nepeta

Nepeta plants, commonly known as catmint or catnip (yes, that catnip), are perennials that are part of the mint family. They are characterized by their square stems and opposite, heart-shaped leaves that emit a distinct fragrance when crushed. 

The flowers of catmints appear in clusters along the stems, showcasing hues of lavender, blue, or white. The bloom time varies, but it often occurs in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Nepeta plants typically thrive in well-drained soil and prefer full sunlight, although they can also tolerate partial shade. They’re also known for their ability to withstand various soil conditions, making them suitable for a range of garden settings. 

And if you cut them back after the first sets of flowers fade, you can get another set of blooms.

Iris

Irish are perennial plants known for their sword-shaped leaves and intricate flowers. They come in a wide variety of colors, including purple, blue, white, yellow and even bi-color varieties. Their flowers typically emerge in the late spring to early summer.

Irises grow best in well-drained soil and sunny locations, but some varieties can also thrive in partial shade. These hardy perennial plants are typically low-maintenance once established and some irises are even drought-tolerant. 

Columbine

Columbine plants are delicate perennial flowers that are part of the Ranunculaceae family. They’re known for their distinct fern-like foliage and five-petal blossoms that form a lantern-like shape. They come in a wide range of colors, including blue, purple, pink, red, yellow and white.

These plants can thrive in many different growing conditions but generally do best in partial shade. They’re also great for attracting pollinators like hummingbirds and bees. 

Poppies

Poppies are known for their vibrant and colorful blooms. Poppies can be grown as annuals, perennials and biennials, depending on your climate zone and the specific variety. They grow in an array of colors, including shades of red, orange, pink, white and purple.

Poppies typically prefer full sunlight and are often associated with wildflower meadows. They attract pollinators to your garden and often a wonderful pop of color during the late spring and early summer.

Roses

Roses are one of the most iconic, timeless flowers you can grow in a garden. They are woody perennials that come in tons of varieties, such as climbers and shrubs, and many different colors.

Roses prefer full sunlight, but many varieties are adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. They’re flexible plants and can be used in more formal garden designs as well as cottage garden designs.

I know roses sound a little intimidating, but there are lots of easy ones out there to grow that are disease-resistant, don’t require deadheading, and bloom all season long.

Peonies

Peonies are known for their large, lush and fragrant flowers that bloom in shades of white, pink, red and even coral. They’re a perennial plant that, depending on the variety, either die back to the ground in winter or maintain woody stems year-round.

Peonies grow best in full sunlight but can also tolerate partial shade. They’re known for their longevity, with some peonies coming back year after year for decades!

Because there is a short bloom time, consider planting different varieties to keep the color and blooms going for longer.

Lilac

Lilacs are deciduous shrubs or small trees that grow beautiful flower clusters known as panicles. Lilacs come in a variety of colors, including purple, pink, white and even blue and are best known for their strong fragrance.

Lilacs are hardy and adaptable but prefer full sunlight for optimal blooming. They’re a long-lasting flowering shrub that provides beautiful color and scent for a spring garden.

Weigela

Weigela plants are another type of deciduous shrub known for their bell-shaped flowers and beautiful foliage. They typically feature arching branches and leaves that vary from green to purple. Tubular flowers bloom in late spring to early summer and typically grow in shades of pink, red or white.

These flowering shrubs are adaptable to different sunlight conditions, so they’re a versatile addition to just about any garden.

I’ve grown several varieties in my gardens and they are a huge hummingbird magnet when they bloom.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs and climbers known for their large, globe-shaped clusters of flowers. Their flowers come in many different colors, including blue, pink, purple, white and green, and they often bloom throughout the summer months.

Hydrangeas grow best when they get a balance of sunlight and shade, but they are adaptable to a variety of climates.

peonies for spring garden flowers

Final Thoughts

I hope you feel more prepared for the spring to summer transition as you get ready to plant your garden this year! I would love to hear what you think! Please leave your ideas, comments & more below or contact me here.

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yellow bearded iris flower

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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Garden Tour 2019

During the 2019 growing season, I diaried and photographed my gardens each week to share how they grew and changed throughout the season.

It’s amazing how much my gardens have changed since then.

CLICK HERE to see what they look like now.

purple allium globemaster in bloom
Although I am partial to Allium ‘Globemaster’, this garden houses a few varieties.

Front Yard Cottage Garden Design

The front border garden has always been a labor of love.

Early in the season, I spend a lot of time prepping and mulching this bed so I can let it go for a few weeks while I work in the backyard gardens.

This garden houses the most perennials in my yard.

Right now, it is transitioning from early to mid-season spring blooms.

purple allium globemaster in the garden
While these Alliums are just starting to bloom, they will become more prominent in the next week.

The Peonies have buds on them, the Catmint and Irises are preparing to bloom and the late spring blooming perennials are filling in nicely.

purple creeping phlox

I love this bluish-purple hue on this Creeping Phlox!

If you live in deer country, this is another deer-resistant plant.

I do not spray this with repellent and deer never touch it.

The red tulips only have a few petals left in the front border garden.

I love when they drop their petals and expose those pretty white centers.

Isn’t that so pretty?

rock border of cottage garden

Side Yard Woodland Garden

Although I don’t work too often in this garden, it typically looks best this time of year as the shade-loving perennials start to bloom.

pink bleeding heart

The Bleeding Hearts and Ferns are doing really well this year.

This Cranesbill aka Geraniums is just starting to bloom.

purple geraniums in bloom

Vegetable Garden Tour

The vegetable garden is looking really good.

I should be able to harvest the lettuces soon.

In the meantime, I am picking up herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers to plant over the next week.

The Backyard Garden

As far as the rest of the backyard borders, the gardens are filling in nicely.

The berry gardens are starting to flower and most of my flowering shrubs have almost all leafed out.

just planted vegetable garden in spring

Here is the other side of the garden that houses Butter Lettuce and Brussel Sprouts.

The green tall grass growing on the other side of the garden is my Siberian Iris.

japonica

There is nothing better than growing your own berries and picking them fresh from the garden.

The Blueberry Bushes have tiny white flowers on them that will transition to blueberries.

To grow blueberries, plant at least two different varieties so they can cross-pollinate.

Blueberry Bushes will not produce fruit if there is only one.

purple lilac in bloom

I am really excited to see this Everblooming Lilac Shrub bloom.

I planted it about four years ago and this is the first season it is covered blooms like this.

While it is not fully blooming yet, it is just about to start!

black Labrador Retriever walking by hosta plants

I have not sprayed these hostas yet with Deer Out, but need to get on it before they are decimated.

My besties Bodie and Koda are always with me whenever I stroll the gardens.

Joe pye weed emerging from ground

Here is a close-up of Joe Pye Weed.

It might not be doing much right now, but it’s growing quickly!

I love this fall-blooming perennial because it grows super tall adding color and height to the garden.

Not to mention it is a butterfly magnet when it blooms.

plume poppy

Plume Poppies grow super quick!

Have you ever grown them before?

I’ve decided to move a few of these to a different area in the same bed where I am struggling to grow anything with height.

They reseed like crazy so give them a lot of room to grow and self seed.

peony ready to bloom

Here is a bud from one of my Peonies.

Do you see the ants on them?

The ants are beneficial as they help peonies bloom.

I have several peonies throughout my gardens and I cannot wait for them to bloom!

pink bleeding hearts
Bleeding Hearts and White Azaleas that partially surround the lower deck area.

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