Winter Flower Color, by Karen Brown

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November is either really late fall, or really early winter, depending a lot on the weather. Either way, the joyous color of summer has faded away and you may find yourself wanting some new color to enjoy.

For the short term, ornamental kale and cabbage, with large rosettes of colorful foliage are an interesting change. Be aware, though, that these are annuals and will finish their lives when the weather becomes really cold and wet.

The pansy family is another common option, and will bloom periodically and rest a bit now and then through the winter. Pansies and violas are an excellent option to use over bulb plantings to make those areas more attractive and colorful. They also serve to brighten planters. Lighter colors show up best on dull days. Plant them close together. Remove the finished blooms and once in awhile trim back the stems as well to promote better shape and fresh growth.

My favorite, though, is heather. I choose Mediterranean Pink, or Med. White, for the longest lasting blooms and most beautiful growth habit and color. Mine have fat buds that will pop open any day and continue to bloom until March or April. Darker colors and other textures are also on the market. The evergreen foliage gives me year round structure to the bed, and a lovely background for summer annuals.

If you have the space for a bed of heathers of at least half a dozen, the more the better, choose different bloom times, with a generous proportion of winter bloomers, and varying foliage textures and colors. This will give you beauty in all seasons. Check out the large bed of assorted heathers in the East Garden area of Connie Hansen Garden for inspiration.

Looking forward to January bloom, think of a witch hazel with hellebores and primroses at its feet, and a few clumps of snowdrops. There is garden interest in every season.

Happy winter gardening!

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