People in Chicago are enjoying bulbs in full bloom such as Crocus, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Iris, Trillium and Tulips. Bleeding Hearts, Jacobs Ladder and other ephemerals are also just about to bloom. Unfortunately, once the blooms are spent, these plants begin to fade, leaving a bare spot in your summer garden. The answer is succession planting – planting something that will cover the fading foliage and bloom later in the season. Hosta, Ligularia, and Astilbe are good choices in the shade garden. Oakleaf Hydrangea, Roses, Japanese Anemones, and Balloon Flowers are examples of sun loving plants that tend to start leafing out a bit later in the season. Roses and Oakleaf Hydrangea will fill in once the Daffodils and Siberian Squill finish while. Moonbeam Coreopsis replaces the Iris reticulata in my garden as shown in the picture below.
Succession planting can be applied to vegetable gardening as well. If you plant cool season crops such as lettuce and spinach, you can plant warm season crops in the same space after you harvest. Check the seed packets or tags to make sure the second crop will have an adequate number of days to mature before cold weather sets in and add compost with each crop you plant.