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Old 09-13-2018, 08:58 AM
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My father has a small backyard in a near suburb of Chicago, and for years used to plant a vegetable garden, that transitioned to a flower garden late in life. He can't garden anymore due to disability, but he still loves to look at his yard. It has become too much work for us to keep planting vegetables and flowers every summer, and I thought we should start planting some bulbs/perennials that would require less maintenance.

The yard is quite small, and basically there is a dirt perimeter outside of a grass lawn that gets planted. Only about a couple feet deep.

What bulbs would you recommend that would work well for his part of the country? Is there a book/website you recommend we look to for advice?

He would love something that flowered a lot and he loves deep colors. A couple years we planted yellow/orange/rust marigolds everywhere and he loved it because they were vibrant all summer and the yard was full of color. But the few plants we put in that come back yearly tend to have brilliant flowers for a few days, and then look scraggly for the rest of the season.

Maybe a mixture of some flowers, and maybe some greenery?

Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 09-13-2018, 10:21 AM
Location: S.W. British Columbia
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I know this doesn't exactly answer your question but I wanted to ask this. Is your disabled dad absolutely unable to participate in any kind of gardening activity now? Does he still have the use of his arms and hands? If he can no longer go out to the garden and get down to ground level would he be able to participate if you brought the garden closer to him instead in the form of plants in raised containers, or container plants placed on benches or tables, so that he could comfortably sit at them to play around with? If there is any possibility of your dad himself enjoying active participation of some kind then you might find some helpful tips in this website that has information for gardening for seniors who are no longer as physically "able" as they once were: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/G...ors-147111.htm

With regard to plants that require less maintenance keep in mind that it isn't always what you plant that requires less maintenance, it often is how you plant it that allows for ease of care and less maintenance. Being a senior myself and working with disabled seniors who want to do gardening but are no longer able to be as physically fit and active as they once were, I am going to recommend that you consider to set up container gardening for your dad's back yard even if he is no longer able to participate. With container gardening it would be a lot easier for his family too, to care for his plants and there is far less maintenance and weeding that needs to be done, if any weeding at all. Another benefit of container gardening is that if certain types of plants get sick, or die, or simply don't perform the way the gardener hoped for, it's so much easier to pull them up out of their containers and replace the container beds with different or newer plants.

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Old 09-13-2018, 10:40 AM
Location: Bloomington IN
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I lived in the Chicago suburbs for many years. The first question is how much sun/shade does the area receive? I'm guessing it gets plenty of sun since it was used for a veggie garden.

I would focus on easy to care for flowers. Although my suggestions below maybe overused, there is a reason. They are simple to care for and grow well.

Tulips and daffodils are great for spring color and only need real care every couple of years.
One of my favorite easy care perennials is Coreopsis Moonbeam.They have small yellow flowers that bloom for quite awhile and will spread.
I would also look for reblooming daylilies. They will add green and flower at least twice. You can divide them every few years.
Purple Coneflower or another coneflower would be a good choice and bloom for extended periods.
The ubiquitous answer is hostas. My concern is the amount of sun in the area. There are some hostas that do better with lots of sun: https://www.thespruce.com/which-host...in-sun-1402799
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:18 PM
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I really appreciate the replies!

My Dad might like to do a little gardening himself, but honestly his time is so limited when he is strong/safe and the weather is so rarely manageable for him that it isn't practical. He his a paraplegic and walks with crutches and leg braces and can only stand briefly and it is very hard to walk onto the grass to reach the vegetables. He will do it (about once or twice a summer) and sometimes prune/pick and likes it. The garden is in raised beds already, but they are still very low. There isn't any place (on cement? accessible by wheelchair/rolling chair?) to put any other plants in an accessible way right now. And the little cement path is not very user friendly for a wheelchair as it is.

But I appreciate your point. I look forward to reading your link and I'll think about it more. Honestly, about all I have time for is planting a few bulbs in the ground... My brother used to be the gardener, and he is moving away.

Appreciate all of the recs rrah! It is very sunny in my Dad's backyard, as you guessed. He actually has noticed some of the ?Daylilies that seem to be growing wild in some parts of town, and some of them are even in interesting colors. Those do bloom a long time! I'm glad to hear you recommend them. He is less of a fan of daffodils, even though they look great coming in early spring, and he asked us to take them out! He would love a purple flower so I will look up the Coneflower... yes I recognize it. Has very long stems, I think?

Thanks for giving me stuff to think about.
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:37 PM
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I would not rule out annuals. They're easy to plant in the spring and have long blooming seasons. They're fun to grow in containers, too. Just keep in mind their mature sizes, and pay attention to the planting instructions.
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