Winter-weary Maine gardeners look forward to springtime and a chance to work outside in a sunny garden. The beauty of flowers and feeling of renewal that they bring after months of snow and cold, dark days is worth the wait.
It can be challenging to make a beautiful flower garden in Maine with a short growing season and a harsh winter climate for plants to survive. The best chance for success is to combine a variety of winter hardy perennials with flowering shrubs, rosebushes, spring flowering bulbs and annuals.
Work the soil with a tiller or hand tools, mixing in compost to add rich nutrients that are needed to help flowers thrive. Draw a plan to map out what you would like to plant in the different areas of your back or front yard. Sketch in taller plants for the back to mid-section of the garden with trellises in behind for climbing plants.
Study a zone planting map to determine which flowers will thrive in Maine. Choose one or two hardy shrubs such as spirea, forsythia, lilac and hydrangea. Select a variety of perennials that will give blossoming coverage from spring to late summer. Spring bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinth will start your flowering season with Iris soon following. Climbing roses, hardy roses, clematis and honeysuckle will survive with guarded care.
Choose rose bushes that are proven to be able to survive 30 to 40 degree below zero temperatures and harsh winter weather. It is wise to start with one or two of a kind to be sure that they will survive in your area.
Select several trays of annual seedlings including petunia, marigolds, zinnia, asters and cosmos. Set them out in the flower garden per instructions that come with the container. Add compost to the soil before setting the plants into the holes. Many annuals will survive for a few months in Maine when planted in late May to early June and protected during late summer frosts. Marigolds will thrive the longest to give a colorful autumn display into early October when weather permits.
Set up a climbing trellis for annual sweet pea blooms for a fragrant mass of flowers. Sweet peas are a favored Maine flowering climber, which you must give a head start indoors in sectioned flats or peat pots. Plant two seeds per pot about 8 weeks before the normal planting time in your area. It is best to nick the hard exterior of the seed with a sharp knife or soak them overnight in room temperature water to soften. Keep the pots in a cool, dark place and expect sprouts to show up in about 10 days.
Continue to build your flower garden by adding perennials and hardy shrubs each year. Visit with friends and neighbors to swap root cuttings, bulbs and perennial plants to add to your growing beautiful Maine flower bed. Hardy perennials include phlox, hollyhocks, black-eyed Susan, cleome, Sweet William, iris, peony, Oriental poppy and pansy to name a few. Columbine, morning glory, mock orange bush, and jack-in-the-pulpit are more popular plants for a Maine flower garden. Milkweed is a must in a butterfly garden and has a surprisingly lovely scented flower mass to provide homes for monarch butterfly larvae.