How to Use a Bloom Chart in Your Garden Design

The Garden Making bloom chart will help you keep track of when plants in your garden are in flower, showing you when there are gaps in bloom. It can be an important tool in achieving succession of bloom in your garden design. Using a bloom chart for individual areas will also be a help in colour design, allowing you to better plan beds devoted to monochromatic schemes, such as white or mauve sections of the garden, or more intricate combinations of pink, lavender and silver, for example.

The bloom chart provides places for you to write in plant names down the right side and columns for the weeks in spring, summer and fall months are listed across the top. First, list the flowering trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and bulbs you already have. Gather any memories, photos and notes you have, because this initial survey will be your key to starting a record of flowering schedules.

As each plant begins to flower, mark the weeks it’s in bloom on the chart. For example, if daffodils begin to bloom the second week of April and last until the second week in May; check off those four corresponding boxes on the chart, next to the entry for daffodils.

Your plant survey and the resulting master list not only shows what specimens you have growing and when they flower, it also reveals the time periods when there’s nothing in bloom. Once the bloom-time chart is filled in, it will be possible to pinpoint short periods of time when nothing is in bloom; for instance, the first 10 days of October, when there’s a slight gap as chrysanthemums fade and late black-leaved cimicifuga isn’t quite out. To bridge that gap will be a research challenge. Plant encyclopedias, good nursery catalogues and Internet sources list the bloom times for perennials and these resources will help you decide on plants to add next year to fill in the gaps.

When using reference materials, remember to factor in your hardiness zone, both in plant selections and in bloom-time adjustment. Perennials adapt to seasonal temperatures, coming into flower earlier in warmer zones (Zones 5 and 6), and later in Zone 4 and lower. In colder zones, winter conditions stay later in spring and hard frost comes earlier in autumn, shortening the growing season.

With good record keeping and careful research, you can achieve a full succession of bloom in just a couple of growing seasons.