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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.

Larkspur, yellow snapdragons and white campion bloom in my garden today

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. 

Stunning but short-lived, this pass along poppie grew from seed started in the fall

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. 

Give them time--I expect great things from my latest crop 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–

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

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