In the spring, as surely as the tulips emerge and the apple trees flower, graduations take center stage. After the graduate walks the stage, the graduation party emerges for its three or four hour duration. Once the graduate jumps into a waiting car to go to the next graduation fete, the parents are left to take down the decorations and clean up the yard.    

But, what if the decorations were a permanent, growing landscape, just happening to be in the graduate’s school colors? Money and time would certainly be saved, but the best part might be giving the yard and garden an interesting and intriguing theme. Gardening with that color scheme in mind may be easy or a challenge, depending on the colors, but it would certainly take the guesswork out of which perennial to pick and which flat of annuals to infuse the yard with instant color.    

This kind of gardening takes some planning, preferably long before the ACT scores come in and certainly before the invitations are mailed. If annuals can fill the bill for the school’s colors, simply load your gardens’ edging and containers with the proper shade. Hang or place containers bountifully crowded with red and white or blue and gold or purple and silver (whatever the colors are) around and in the party area. March pots of alternating colors on either side of the walkway to the front door or the opening to the backyard.    

Make pillars out of shepherd’s hooks on either side of the front steps or the beginning of the pathway to the side yard, and hang planters with trailing varieties of flower plants in the colors. If there are already trellises in your yard, buy some potted vining plants in the colors and bury the pot in front of the trellis, twining the plant and its flowers up the trellis.

If some plants are already in full bloom but away from the party area, cut and display them in vases. If nothing else, buy some inexpensive buckets in one of the school colors, and fill them to overflowing with flowers of the other color and display them throughout the area.    

Finally, if the senior isn’t even a junior, time is on the side of the gardener. Now is a good time to research flowering perennials, looking for those that might flower at the time of graduation. Plants such as tulips, lilies, irises and roses come in almost all the colors of the rainbow, and even colors unusual to flower plants, such as black and silver, are not hard to find at a good nursery or on the Internet. Well-planned perennial gardens come back year after year, saving on expensive annuals, but creating the same explosion of color on that festive graduation day.