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Planning for Year-Round Color

By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners

Have you ever noticed that some perennial beds look like they just pop up all by themselves? They have interest, texture, and color year-round. That is not exactly what happens. A garden bed like that requires planning and decision making. And if horticulture had rock stars, Dutch designer Piet Odulf, would be one! My dream one day is to walk the High Line Garden in New York City, ,in all seasons. Odulf takes his inspiration from the seasonal changes in nature and works to catch the emotion of each season. Although his gardens look as if they have been designed by nature, his landscape designs are incredibly thought out and orchestrated. The High Line plant list has over

600 plants many of which would feel right at home here in West Texas!

Thankfully, we can all incorporate some of his basic design ideas to create gardens that show color and interest in all four seasons and are sustainable. So here are some tips and plants to get you started:

Know your plants: When does your plant bloom? Will it thrive in our Hardiness Zone? How much sun exposure does it need? How tall does it get? How much water does it need? All plants need water to establish but most need less water as they mature. Does it have an interesting seed head or structure?

Four season gardens: Choose plants for shape and texture as well as color so that when flowers fade their structural element remains. Cherish the end of the season; appreciate the different architecture and color of winter. Be slow to take down gardens. Gardens are not “dead” in winter. They are supporting a host of native pollinators until spring returns.

Plant in drifts that repeat in a theme: Show off the personality of the plant. Mass drifts, whether they are some of our amazing native grasses or perennials set a mood and repeating them creates a theme of wholeness. Within this structure, include a color plant that is a repeat bloomer or blooms over along season as well as plants that bloom only in one season. For instance, in a can you use drifts of spring annuals, a summer blooming perennial, a fall blooming perennial as well as a native grass or evergreen shrub for winter interest?

So, whether you shop the Permian Basin Master Gardener sale, local or internet nurseries, look at the information and know you are buying a plant that will contribute to your landscape. Here are some plants to explore:


Four Nerve Daisy Blog Entry 8/14/2021

Inland Sea Oats

Sideoats Gramma Blog Entry 1/24/2021

Little Bluestem

Lindheimer’s Muhly


Artemisia Blog Entry 6/19/2021

Blackfoot Daisy Blog Entry 6/6/2022

Lantana spp. Blog Entry 5/15/2021

Turk’s Cap Blog Entry 2/8/2023


Passion Vine


Chili Petin Blog Entry 2/13/2023

Esperanza Blog Entry 1/10/2021


Indian Blanket

Coral Honeysuckle


Copper Canyon Daisy Blog Entry 3/21/2021cc

Fall Aster Blog Entry 4/17/2021

Maximillian Sunflower Blog Entry 7/3/2021

Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye Blog Entry 3/21/2021

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.

Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at Click on “Resources”.


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