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Cool weather annuals will help your garden look beautiful for the holidays

Nov. 25, 2010 at 5:25 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

It is so hard for me to believe that we are already almost in the last month of the year. We all say it often, but really, where does the time go?

So now that the holidays are here, most of us will stay very busy with shopping, cleaning, visiting family and friends, and oh yeah, all the holiday eating.

Many of us gardeners are anxious to have our yards looking nice and festive, especially if we're having guests over or family here for a visit.

Flowering annuals are just the thing you need to brighten up your landscape.

Whether you're planting in flower beds, in containers, or both, cool weather annuals will help to make any landscape look beautiful and festive. Most cool season annuals will give you color from now until the spring.

By now, many of your perennials are probably starting to look a bit worn out. No problem.

Just plant annuals around them. Give everything a good feeding with some of your Rose-Glo fertilizer, add a fresh layer of mulch, give everything a good drink of water and the area will look great and colorful until the end of the season.

One of the most popular of all the fall and winter annuals would have to be the pansy. It's also one of the most hardy of the cool season bloomers for our area.

Having more than 250 cultivars, these little beauties will usually withstand our coldest temperatures.

Pansies are very durable, and did you know that the flowers are edible?

Some of the northern states can grow pansies during their summers. There are even many regions of California that can actually grow pansies all year long.

With our extreme summer temperatures we can only enjoy them in the fall and winter.

Pansies need to have at least six hours of sun in a well drained soil. Any less sunshine and the plants will not bloom as well.

Pansies come in three categories of flower sizes, small, medium and large.

The blooms range in size from one to four inches.

The pansy with the smallest flower are called Johnny Jump Up.

Pansies are compact plants with most varieties only getting nine to 10 inches in height and spread.

If you enjoy lots of color in your flower beds or containers then pansies are for you. Pansies actually have one of the widest color ranges of any of the garden annuals.

Some of the pansy varieties are said to have faces, which are made from the blotches of different colors in the middle of the bloom.

Many pansy varieties are slightly fragrant. Try planting large groups of same-colored pansies for a really bold and colorful show.

If planted in a sunny area and fed and watered on a regular basis, you should have no problems growing beautiful pansies.

If grown in less desirable conditions, you could find that your pansies are being bothered by pests.

Aphids, spider mites and snails are the usual suspects to watch for.

Then there are also the bigger four-legged pests that will easily eat an entire yard full of pansies in one evening. I'm referring to deer. I really don't think there is any other plant that deer like to eat better than pansies unless maybe it's roses.

If you've ever had any problem with deer in your yard, do not bother planting pansies. They will eat them all.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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