Perennials are mainstays of many North Fork flower gardens, and for good reason. Unlike the annual impatiens and petunias and geraniums planted in pots and beds for the summer, perennials don’t need to be replanted every year. Perennials die back to the ground in winter but regrow the following spring. Their many colors from pastels to brights, flower forms and plant heights can be combined to create symphonies of bloom. The only problem with perennials is that most of them bloom for just a few all-too-brief weeks. The rest of the growing season they’re green and leafy. To have color in the flower garden from spring to fall you need to carefully orchestrate flowers with different blooming times to have something blooming throughout the growing season. The results can be breathtaking, but it does require planning, and who has enough time for that?

Summer is time to celebrate, and all across the East End the peak season is here. It’s time to dive into all summertime has to offer. The beach beckons. There are barbecues, parties and concerts, art exhibits to see, new restaurants to try. The sultry days, warm nights and ocean breezes can feel positively tropical. You can transform your North Fork garden, deck or patio into your personal tropical paradise and capture the spirit of summer by surrounding yourself with the hot colors and exuberant lushness of tropical plants. They’re readily available at nurseries and garden centers across the East End now. These lavish beauties won’t survive the winter unless you bring them indoors or board them in a greenhouse, but they can make your summer surroundings glorious.

Here on the East End we’re all about summer. While all four seasons have their particular beauty, summer is the peak, when the bay and ocean waters are warm and inviting, and we can throw open our windows to the soft summer air. In summer decks and patios become extensions of our homes. We cook there, dine there, relax there. We furnish our outdoor living areas with tables and chairs, lounges, lights and fire pits and heaters for chilly evenings. Plants are welcome, too. Many of us move our houseplants outdoors in summer—mine always thrive there and become rejuvenated after spending the winter indoors.