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Year Round Flower Garden Tour


When you’re planning a garden, it can be hard to make it interesting during all four seasons. This small city yard has had all of the grass replaced with flowers, and will give you lots of inspiration for creating a year round garden.

Four season garden tour with pictures of gardens in spring, summer, fall and winter

I have been living in my small house in Toronto for almost 30 years.

When I first moved in, there was not much more than some grass and weeds in the yard.

But since I didn’t want to have to mow grass, I have converted the entire yard to a flower garden.

When I am planning my garden beds, I think about having four season interest to keep them looking attractive.

It could be by making sure I have a mix of coordinating blooms or choosing different foliage textures and colors.

Since my house is painted purple I keep that in mind when choosing colors, which tend to be mostly blues, purples and pinks.

Now that the plants are all grown up, I thought I would do a year round garden tour in case you’re looking for ideas.

The yard layout

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Before we start, let’s take a look at the 4 parts of my garden so you have an idea of the layout.

The front yard garden

Small city front yard garden with a picket fence and an arbor
© Malcolm Geast

My front yard is a small city yard about 15 feet wide and deep. I have a low picket fence across the front and down the side of the yard (beside the driveway).

A small front yard garden with a flagstone walkway

And a flagstone walkway from the front door out to the sidewalk with an arbor over the entrance.

The boulevard garden

A city boulevard with a garden and a bench under the tree
© Malcolm Geast

The boulevard is the little piece of land between the sidewalk in front of my house and the street.

Garden bench under a tree looking at a picket fence and arbor
© Malcolm Geast

It actually belongs to the city. But I didn’t want to have to cut the grass. And I like to provide a pretty garden and bench for people to stop and relax in when they’re walking by.

The backyard garden

Small city backyard garden with a flagstone walkway

My backyard is also a very narrow 15 feet wide but it’s fairly long for a city yard (about 100 feet).

I have a deck close to the house and a flagstone pathway that leads all the way to the back. (You can see more of the deck HERE).

Backyard garden with a white lady banks rose blooming on a fence and an arbor over a flagstone path

There’s a tall fence down one side. And the garage is about halfway down the yard on the other side. So that makes the yard even narrower for the middle part of this garden.

The side yard garden

A fence beside a driveway with large containers full of plants

When I say side yard, I’m using the term “yard” very loosely.

It’s really the very small area between the driveway and my backyard fence. I have a few planters here as well as some plants in the ground.

Now let’s get on with the garden tour!

Spring (my favorite season)

After our long, overcast, freezing winters here in Toronto, it is with open arms that we welcome any signs of Spring.

So it is not by chance that spring is by far the showiest season in my garden.

Early Spring

The front yard garden

White hellebores blooming in the garden in early spring

Just as the leaf buds are coming out on the clematis vines, and the snow has almost melted, I have one hellebore by my step that sports a ton of white buds.

My heart swells and I feel energized and joyously renewed.

Species tulips blooming in the early spring

Soon the crocuses and species tulips will follow.

The boulevard garden

Tulips and grape hyacinths blooming on the boulevard

With its dry soil and many dog visitors, the boulevard is a challenging place to grow plants.

So only the toughest survive. Which is why I combined daffodils with grape hyacinths for the spring display here.

The backyard garden

Pieris, azaleas and trilliums blooming in the backyard garden

And it isn’t long before Pieris gets its white lily-of-the-valley-like flowers, early pink Azaleas light up the garden and Trilliums start to bloom.

The side yard garden

Purple hyacinths blooming in the spring

On the side, Hyacinths that match the color of my planters (and my house) fill the air with their sweet smelling perfume.

Mid Spring

From mid-May into June the spring garden gets into full swing and puts on a big show.

The front yard

Tulips blooming beside a front yard picket fence

Mid season hybrid tulips grow along the outside of my fence.

PJM Rhododendron blooming in front of a water fountain in the spring garden

While a PJM Rhododendron blooms on the inside of the fence.

A tree peony, alliums and evergreens growing beside an arbor

By the arbor, the tree peonies (seen here with purple alliums) are especially eye catching.

They are worth it for their magnificence even though the blossoms are short lived.

Red fern tree peony and columbines in the front yard garden

One of my other favorites (that is also short lived) is the fern peony.

Both tree peonies and fern peonies will grow in dappled shade (which I have plenty of) so they do very well in my garden.

Peony lactifolia blooming in a garden surrounded by a picket fence

Although I love the old-fashioned herbaceous peonies with a passion my garden does not have enough sunlight for them to produce flowers reliably except for the wild species in the corner of my front fence.

A large lilac bush blooming beside a pink dogwood tree

The lilacs in front of the house are gorgeous and heady with perfume.

The boulevard

An ornamental pear tree blooming above the boulevard garden

The ornamental pear on the boulevard is covered in white blossoms.

The backyard

Snowball viburnum bush blooming in a fenced backyard garden

So is the snowball viburnum, serviceberry and the mulberry tree in the back yard.

Virginia bluebells, hellebores and painted ferns growing in a spring garden

While Virginia bluebells, Hellebores, and the blue blooms of Brunnera cover the understory.

Tree peonies with large bright pink blooms

And more tree peonies add their huge blooms to the landscape.

PJM Rhododendron blooming with Japanese Pieris in front of a blue evergreen shrub

In the back, the first rhododendrons to burst forth with their glorious vibrant fuchsia flowers are the PJMs.

A large Rhododendron bush with pink blooms in front of a tall fence

And then the larger leaved rhododendrons come out in pinks, mauves and purples

The side yard

A climbing Hydrangea growing on a fence surrounding a Rhododendron above some Hostas

Outside the backyard fence, this Rhododendron looks beautiful framed by the climbing Hydrangea with its buds just starting to open.

Blue forget-me-nots blooming with pink tulips

Blue forget-me-not annuals that self-seed form a delicate carpet everywhere in my side and back gardens.

They look so pretty with these pink and white tulips.

Late Spring

The front yard

A climbing Hydrangea growing on a purple house wall above a Japanese maple
©Malcolm Geast

By mid June the climbing hydrangea is covering the front of my house with white flowers that stand out against the purple paint and make a lovely backdrop for the immerging yellow Japanese maple by the front door.

A dogwood tree covered with pink flowers in a front yard garden

The pagoda dogwoods start blooming about this time, too.

I am so passionate about these small trees that I have 5 of them planted around my small city garden.

The pink one above provides a big splash of color in the front yard.

Pink columbines and purple alliums blooming beside a picket fence

Pink Aquilegias, commonly called columbines, nod their heads at this time.

I allow mine to self seed and grow where they will.

The boulevard

Purple and white irises blooming on the boulevard

The stunning irises on the boulevard contrast beautifully with the daffodils there.

The backyard

A variegated dogwood with white flowers blooming above a blue deck chair

Here’s another one of my favorite dogwoods.

This one has variegated leaves and provides some shade and privacy for the deck at the back of my house.

White bridal wreath spirea

The bridal wreath spirea bushes are draped in lovely white blooms.

Two blue purple allium flowers in a garden

And the round blue balls of allium polka-dot the landscape here and there.

The side garden

A large white climbing Hydrangea growing on a fence over a variety of Hostas

In the side garden, the climbing hydrangea meanders along the arbor and fence. And is covered in white blooms.

It looks especially pretty with a variety of Hostas at its feet.


The front yard garden

Chardonnay Pearls Deutzia growing in a front yard garden

Early summer brings forth the delicate ‘pearls’ on the Charbonnay Pearls Deutzia bushes.

Their yellow color echoes the yellow Japanese maple by the door in the front garden.

Ferns and pink Astilbes growing under a Japanese maple in a summer garden

Now the three Japanese maples in the front garden are in full leaf.

As I mentioned before, one is yellow with red stems, one is a burgundy/red with delicate deep cut leaves and one is bright red/orange.

These small trees make a lively contrast with all the evergreen and blue/green foliage in the space and act as focal points.

Pink Astilbes blooming in a garden with ferns

Underneath the maples, the spires of astilbe and heuchera are cheerful and colorful as are their foliage.

I use a lot of ferns and have a particular penchant for the Japanese painted fern. I grow it in the understory everywhere.

Phlox growing in a summer garden inside a picket fence with purple salvia on the outside

At the front sidewalk, I like the blue spires of Victoria salvia (an annual in my region) interspersed with low growing variegated pink lamium.

They are both tough, and survive the drought and dogs they have to contend with.

Behind the fence, Phlox provides lots of color in the August garden.

Perennial Geraniums blooming outside a picket fence in a summer garden
©Malcolm Geast

Blue cranesbill or perennial geranium give a nice cottagey feel along the fence by the driveway.

A Hydrangea blooming beside a water fountain in the summer garden

I love the blossoms on the hydrangea bushes. I think a garden cannot have too many of these magnificent plants.

And they’re great cut flowers to bring indoors for a bouquet.

The boulevard garden

Black Lace Elderberry with pink blooms growing on a boulevard with other perennials

The black lace elderberry on the boulevard has large lacey pink flowers that contrast smartly with its dark foliage.

Echinacea and other perennials growing on a boulevard beside a bench

Echinacea blooms all summer providing lots of color without requiring a lot of work.

The backyard garden

A pink climbing rose covering the side of a garage

This old climbing rose only blooms once a year. However, it is particularly colorful and fragrant as it covers the side of the garage.

My Monet weigela with pink flowers blooming in the summer garden

My Monet weigela makes a statement with its mauve/purple blooms and variegated bluish foliage.

White perennial sweet peas

The perennial sweet peas are in bloom and winding their way up the fence.

A summer planter with pink and purple flowers

The planters, hanging baskets and window boxes thrive all summer.

I have a drip watering system on timers that assures that they get the moisture they need. It is a godsend and makes for such easy care enjoyment.

The side yard garden

A clematis growing on a trellis at the side of a house

On the side of the house, a Clematis planted in a window box in the window well blooms on the side of the house.

Roses and evergreens growing in a large container in front of a fence.

To take advantage of the one sunny location in my garden, I planted floribunda roses in the large containers along the driveway.

They will continue to bring joy by reblooming throughout the summer.

A climbing Hydrangea with white flowers growing on a fence above Hostas with purple flowers

Although I don’t grow hostas for their blooms, they do flower now too.

The Fall Garden

The front yard

A small city garden in the fall with a Japanese Maple with orange leaves
©Malcolm Geast

Come autumn, the foliage on many of the deciduous trees and bushes change color. The hollies have bright red berries and so do the barberries.

The Japanese Maple leaves turn brilliant oranges and red.

Japanese Anemones blooming in the front garden in the autumn

The anemones hold center stage in the front garden. People often comment on their beauty.

The blue asters at the bottom of the fence return every year.

Allium seed heads in the fall
©Malcolm Geast

The grasses are mature and allium seed heads wave in the breeze.

In late October, I empty the planters and remove the plants from the window boxes.

I collect greenery, sedum flowers, hydrangea spent blossoms, and holly with berries on it to decorate the boxes for the winter.

The boulevard

©Malcolm Geast

By the fall, sweet alyssum has taken over the boulevard, along with some grasses and chrysanthemums.

The backyard

Some of the late blooming clematis varieties still have blooms. The profuse delicate white fairy blooms of autumn clematis cover the corner of the house.

The side yard

Autumn sedum makes a nice showing against its blue gray foliage.

The roses are making another flush of color.


The front yard

Before Christmas, I decorate the hoopsie spruce tree in the front yard with lights and balls and hang a wreath on the front door.

I have a lot of evergreen bushes and trees that are different shades of green and blue-green which look interesting all winter.

The boulevard

I leave the grasses unshorn until spring to provide bird food and visual relief.

The backyard

I can see the red stems of the red stem dogwood from my window. It looks startling against the white snow.

My path lights are functional all winter and make a magical glow in the snow on winter evenings.

All of the evergreens and bushes add interest even when there isn’t anything growing.

Well, that’s it for my year round garden tour. Of course, it never stays the same from one year to the next.

Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for your own four season garden.

Other gardening ideas you might like

Have comments or questions about my year round garden? Tell us in the section below.

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  1. Breeda Hobbart says:

    Hello Wanda, I have really enjoyed looking at your Mums garden, and took some notes.
    She has put a lot of work into it, and is now reaping the reward, it’s amazing, you obviously take after your mum. Thank you for the beautiful viewing.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Breeda! I always come away with some inspiration when I see what she has done…and I have been working in the garden with her since I was a child (not always willingly back then) so I think some of it rubbed off 🙂

  2. Beautiful and imaginative gardens!! We are moving soon from the White Mtns. of Az. (7,000 ft) to Greeneville, Tennessee. I’m sad to leave my gardens, but I’m very much looking forward to starting new gardens with new plants that will grow and thrive there!!! Thank you for your inspiration!!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Pebble! Good luck with your new garden 🙂

  3. Pauline O’Neill says:

    Good morning Wanda, thank you so much for allowing me to tour your mum’s beautiful garden. Living in the temperate zone of New South Wales, Aust, we don’t get snow and our summers are very hot. However, many of her plants are the same as ours so it was great to see how she has complimented everything against each other. Certainly makes me want to rush outside and get started all over again. I can see where you get all your wonderful ideas from, the genes are very strong.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Pauline…I’m glad you enjoyed my mother’s garden. It is always an inspiration…to me and pretty much anyone else who sees it 🙂

  4. Does the sweet alyssum grow perennially? I’m a new gardener, and I’ve only ever seen it as an annual

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Lauren…it isn’t a perennial, but it does self-seed quite easily so it will usually come back every year.

  5. Ann Conklinn says:

    WOW. I loved this article! I love the purple house and royal blue chairs. We love color in the garden.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks, Ann! I’m happy to hear you liked it 🙂

  6. Anna Santorella says:

    I enjoy reading all of your articles.You have been so helpful to me in planning my shade garden. I am looking forward for your next email.

    1. Hello Anna, I am pleased that you find our information helpful. Happy gardening!