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If you hurry, there’s still time to plant some hardy annuals like the pansies, snapdragon, and Dianthus transplants above. 

They’ll bloom though spring rain, sleet, and snow; then peak in late May or early June. 

After that you can toss spent plants on the compost pile and use the space for summer flowers.   

It’s crop rotation for flower gardenersHardy annuals are an easy way to bring more blooms into your southern garden and have more than one season of flowers in your beds.

I grow them from transplant.  These came from the awesome Campbell Road Nursery (off Tryon Road in Cary) for just 10 dollars a flat. 

I also grow hardy annuals from seed.  The larkspur above were sown in the fall. 

These baby Nigella were raked in the garden in January.   As the weather warms, they’ll grow like weeds.   Hardy annuals are EASY, which means more newbie gardeners should them a try.   

Annual poppies, and sweet peas can also be grown this way in triangle gardens.  Any other suggestions.  What hardy annuals would you add to the list?


Summer flowers linger last week in Imogene's pots--

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. 

Imogene's pots planted for winter-spring color

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.  

Dianthus in bloom. The snapdragons will fill in and bring height and color for early spring--

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. 

Make sure your winter garden is easy to see from the house--

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. 

Imogene's patio is a great place for a winter pot garden. The brick and concrete hold the sun's heat--

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.

I love this plant!

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.   

Colors deepen as the sun slips to the south in the fall.

 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. 

Penta and Perellia look stunning side by side

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. 

Coleus of many colors--

 They’re  so beautiful right now I can’t bear to pull them out.   

Maybe just one more week.

Ok–if you really like those pots of mums all the stores have now–skip this blog post.  Gardening is about doing what you like–Not what I like or your neighbor likes.  It should be personal.  Otherwise just hire some pros to come in and do your yard. 

And in that vein, I don’t like those potted mums.  I’ve tried them–but always failed.    And while some people can make them work (en mass), not me.  Potted mums need too much water–look too formal–bloom and move on too quickly.   Planted in my garden–they look like hot house mushrooms and totally out of place. 

Here’s what I spend my money on instead:

Hardy annuals and biennials like–pansies, viola, snapdragons, dianthus, foxgloves.

Dianthus are planted in fall--stunning in springFoxgloves also winter over--the only way to grow them in NC

Winter vegetables like–collards, kale, mustard, chard

And the best value in gardening–a package of larkspur seed.  In Novemeber, rake them in open soil and enjoy lovely blooms in spring. 

Meanwhile to decorate my porch instead of mums–a bucket of garden foliage and grasses.  They’re free and they’ve looked good in this old pail for weeks.  (Check out the cool sign my friend Mandy sent me from France.)

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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