In Full Bloom

Above: Roses by Julie Bidwell

Dreaming of a yard filled with beautiful flowers and plants but don’t have time to garden? We talked to Sam Bridge of Sam Bridge Nursery to get his picks for easy-care plants and shrubs that will give you maximum interest, foliage and flowers with the least amount of upkeep. Before you plant, healthy soil is key. “Time and effort spent prepping your soil really pays off,” says Sam. In particular, he notes, in yards where there’s been construction, the soil gets stripped and compacted, often leaving it in poor condition. Sam advises digging in the soil to loosen it up and adding compost (he likes Coast of Maine) and a natural supplement for plants called Biotone. Once your soil is ready, find places on your property for some of these low-maintenance beauties.


New dwarf andromedas (such as the Dorothy Wycoff and Valley Valentine) are among the first flowers to bloom in spring. They’re deer resistant and grow in partial shade. The foliage takes on a reddish tint in the cooler months and flower buds remain on the plant, giving this shrub four-season appeal. Hellebores also bloom in the earliest days of spring. These hardy, deer-proof perennials grow in shady spots, and their flowers change color over the course of the seasons.

Super-hardy Knock Out roses and Drift groundcover roses are consistent bloomers that are resistant to black spotting and don’t need deadheading. Since Knock Outs were introduced more than a decade ago, the breeder has produced new colors and varieties such as Double Knock Outs for twice the blooms or the White Out Rose collection with snowy colored blooms as well as blush, pink, sunny (yellow to cream) and rainbow (pink with yellow center).

Spirea are deciduous shrubs that produce cascades of flowers in white, pink, red or yellow depending on the variety, and many have attractive fall foliage. Spirea thrive in sunny spots. Yak rhododendrons are compact versions of the rhododendron
that does well in a shady spot. The flowers are big, beautiful and showy but the plant can fit in a three-by-three- foot space.

Boxwood Vardar Valley or Green Gem are tougher varieties of boxwood that are deer resistant and can thrive in shade. The Vardar Valley has pretty bluish-green leaves and works well as a low hedge, while Green Gem has more yellow-green leaves and a globular shape.



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