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My first Christmas gift is already delivered. Last week, I drove to my hometown in Alamance County and re-planted my friend Imogene’s pots.
Snapdragons, Dianthus and violas will bring months of blooms to her patio garden. In spring (for her birthday) I’ll pull out these winter annuals and replant for spring, summer and fall.
Imogene has been my special friend since I was 13. She helped me celebrate my marriage, my first home, my first garden. When I was a beginning gardener, she was an important teacher. Many of my first plants came from her.
Giving back makes me feel good, and honors our long, long friendship. The patio garden is something she enjoys everyday.
So if you know an older gardener who doesn’t get around as well as they used to, consider a well-placed pot display. It’s a gift that lasts and last.
There are 12 pots of all sizes in Imogene’s patio garden. Every other year, I change the potting mix. I use slow-release fertilizer and a combination of 4-5 different plant varieties–about a flat and half or two flats of annuals. For fun, I change the color scheme every season.
Tall spiky plants do well in the elevated end pots. This is a large evergreen Carex–a great find from the Campbell Road Nursery perennial sale. I bought my hardy annuals there as well. They have a good selection of healthy plants for NC gardens. I know they’ll do well for my old, old friend.
First the mum–I’m afraid it has no name. Garden teacher and writer, Pam Baggett. who shared it with me many years ago called it “Pass-along Apricot Mum”.
For a while, I thought my flower was “Clara Curtis”. But walking in my neighborhood today I notice that Clara had collapsed, while my mum is still going strong. Clara is also more pink than apricot. My apricot mum is prettier than Clara which means my mum still has no name.
So you’ll have to get it from me, or Pam or blog-partner Melissa, or pal Kristen or one of the other gardeners we have shared this wonderful plant with over the years.
Make a note now–ask for the mum.
Part two of this post–Fall Colors, and I don’t just mean the leaves on the trees.
Have you noticed how rich the flower colors are this time of year? Reds, purples and blues really shine in the lower spectrum light of Autumn.
And yes, it is time to put in the pansies, snapdragon, Dianthus and other winter annual transplants. I always try to set them out before October ends. But after the long hot summer, my flowers are finally thriving again.
They’re so beautiful right now I can’t bear to pull them out.
Maybe just one more week.
The picture says it all–my larkspur is beautiful this year. Purple-blue and about 4 feet tall, it began with planning, and a packet of seeds sown last fall. But this hardy annual is short-lived in our southern heat. By the end of the month–the larkspur, snapdragons, Dianthus, poppies, and pansies that bring so much color to my spring garden will be toast–bloomed out and going to seed. They’ll go to the compost pile and the garden will need more plants.
Cool. Late May is a great time to plant heat loving annuals like zinnias, cosmos, cleome, celosia and salvia. With dead-heading, water and fertilizer, these plants will carry the garden into the fall. It’s a whole new look–hot and tropical to match our summers. I look forward to the change. But new plants are expensive. Already the cheap four-packs of annuals are disappearing from most garden centers–replaced by bigger pots and bigger price tags. So I’m starting one more round of seeds.
Starting them outside in my version of peat pots, newspaper pots. These bio-degradable containers make for less transplant shock. And that’s what you want in hot weather–plants that take off and grow fast.
As always, starting from seed gives me more choices. I won’t have to take garden-center left overs. Here’s what I’ve recently sown for the long, hot summer: Cleome Violet Queen, Sunflower Vanilla Ice, Love Lies Bleeding, Balsam Impatiens, Melampodium, Zinnia Violet Queen, Celosia Rose Shades and Cosmos Summer dream.
And yes, I do grown perennials–lots of them. But nothing gives me more summer blooms than hot weather annuals. Two I wouldn’t be without–that I just moved to bigger pots today–woodland flowering tobacco and Salvia Van houtti. Do yourself a favor and check them both out–