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November 2013

Gardening 101:
Cool Blooms
Written By: 
Joan McDonald

A trifecta of vibrant, easy-to-grow annuals add gorgeous color to the winter garden


Looking for beautiful, lasting color to carry your garden through till spring? Winter in the Lowcountry can be nearly as bright as our sultry subtropical summers—with the added bonus of less weeding. The following cool-season garden staples are proven workhorses that will deliver vibrance in the landscape or a favorite container with very little effort.


Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
This winter favorite offers up beautiful and edible flowers—feel free to add them to your favorite salad or infuse in a cup of hot tea. The ‘Zeolights’ variety (pictured at top right) has a stunning peach and maroon double bloom—quite unique when compared to its more traditional single-blooming relatives. This calendula will have subtle changes in color as it matures, making it an interesting plant to follow through its lifecycle. It’s also a seed-to-seed grower; simply harvest its seeds in late spring or early summer and sow in mid-August for sunny winter blooms.

Light: Full sun
Soil: Well-draining, loamy soil, pH 6-7
Water: 2-3 times/week
Maintain: Deadhead for new blooms.


Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime)
This spectacular mounding ground cover is delicate in appearance but surprisingly drought tolerant and deer resistant. It offers up a sweet fragrance and occasionally even reseeds itself. Used in a container, it will cascade over the edge as a fantastic trailer. Try the ‘Tiny Tim’ variety—it will not disappoint with its carpet of fragrant blossoms.

Light: Full sun to light shade
Soil: Well-draining, nutrient-rich, loamy soil
Water: 2-3 times/week; it prefers moist soil but can tolerate drought.


Pansy (Viola wittrockiana)
Pansies—technically perennial viola hybrids that are treated as annuals—come in nearly every color of the rainbow, making them an easy fit for any garden bed, and put on a nonstop show of blooms about six months out of the year. Plant them en masse in the landscape to add a big splash of color, or tuck them into a container as a companion plant. Have a cooler palette? Check out ‘Matrix Blue Frost’. This vibrant bloomer stands out with its blue to lavender hues offset by delicate white highlights.

Light: Full sun
Soil: Well-draining, nutrient-rich
Water: Regularly when newly planted, then 2-3 times/week

 




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