Happy day after Thanksgiving Day everyone. After expressing thanks for many gifts, have you ever thought about being thankful for the wonderful world of color that surrounds us every day?
From a gardener’s perspective, I am particularly aware and thankful for the beautiful plants that come to life in the coolness of autumn temperatures. While recently looking around the local garden centers, I found myself drinking in the warm colors of the season and dreaming of the plants that I would love to add to my landscape.
But you may be asking, “How can I put color in my garden with the winter season so close at hand? Aren’t flowers what we plant in the spring?” That’s what I asked when we first moved to Texas. Wow, did I have a lot to learn. We south Texans are so fortunate to have weather that allows us the joy of gardening nearly year round. So, let’s talk about colorful winter annuals and perennials.
To begin my search, I turned to the Victoria Master Gardener’s website to check out what my fellow master gardeners had to offer in way of advice through the many years of Gardeners’ Dirt articles. The website provides a gold mine of information, available to the public any time of the day or night. Just go to your computer, tablet or smartphone and pull up vcmga.org to find all you need to know about the organization. I will be referencing some of the topics and the authors who helped me learn the pros and cons of the following specimens.
Since my front yard faces westward, the searing summer sun takes a toll on most plantings. I have a few that seem to be able to withstand the heat, like Henry Duelberg salvia and Dwarf Mexican petunias, proving that they indeed are Texas Superstars. But now that cooler days are upon us, I am toying with the idea of introducing some different kinds of foliage to my landscape.
I enjoy the “happy faces” of pansies and violas in their various color combinations and will include those as border plants (Pansies January 2013 and February 2018 by Linda Lees). But I’m leaning toward getting out of my comfort zone and want to experiment with new greenery and herbage for a change of pace.
As Charlie Neumeyer mentioned in his November 2018 article, not all color is found in flowering annuals. Such items as copper plants, ornamental kale and cabbages and many varieties of crotons can offer numerous shades and hues to please the eye.
The Texas Superstar Gorizia rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus), aka Barbecue Skewers, makes an excellent upright shrub with profuse blue flowers which attracts bees and other beneficial insects. I love to run my fingers through the boughs of rosemary plants and smell the soothing fragrances left on my fingers. Jack Goodwin shared how he uses Gorizia rosemary in grilling (November 2021). Cliff Knezek stated in his August 2010 article that this herb is a deer resistant plant.
Sweet Pea grows in Zones 2-11 and loves the sun. In mild winter climates (Zones 8, 9, or 10), plant sweet peas in November so they can develop and bloom in late winter and early spring.
After enjoying Thursday’s activities filled with sharing good food and lively conversations, today might be the perfect day for quiet reflection. Perhaps, a brisk walk or leisurely stroll through Victoria Educational Gardens will help me work off the sluggish feeling of overindulging. But more important, it will clear the way for appreciating and truly realizing the wonderfully colorful world in which we live.