Answer: Annuals are plants that grow, flower, and die, all within one season. If yours are starting to look shop-worn, it's because they've come to the ends of their lives. Perennials are plants that grow and flower for 3 or more years. The tops can die down in the winter months but the roots will remain alive and will produce new stems, foliage, and flowers in the spring. Most perennials will look good until cold weather kills the tops back, usually in late fall or early winter. To keep some color in your garden most of the year you can plant cold-tolerant plants such as ornamental kale, pansies, and chrysanthemums. Plant these in the late summer and they'll grow and bloom happily most of the fall months. You'll have to rely on winter flowering shrubs such as forsythia, daphne and witchhazel to get you through the winter months, then plant very early blooming annuals and perennials to bridge the gap until spring-bloomers show up. I use primrose, pansies, crocus, hyacinths and tulips to tide me over until it's time for spring annuals and perennials to begin growing.
There are many low-growing shrubs that make good borders. If it's a sunny site, choose heathers, lavender or boxwood. Shade tolerant shrubs include winter daphney, euonymus fortunei, mahonia or nandina.
Good luck with your new landscape!
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