Quick Spots of Color for Entry, Patio

You have a favorite focal point near the front door or out by the pool. How great would a basket lined with moss and filled with cyclamen and garden carnations look sitting there for the next couple of months! It might be just the highlight you’ve been wanting.

Neither of these plants will survive temperatures as low as the pansies will, especially when they’re growing in pots sitting on tables. But it’s easy enough to bring them into protection overnight or for a day or two during the coldest blasts of mid-winter. Just don’t expose them to temperatures below the high-20s, and don’t bring them into 72-degree rooms for more than 12 or 18 hours.

A little more about these two plants…

With their flowers that look like shooting stars and leaves that look like jewels, it’s hard not to like cool-season cyclamen.

• Cyclamen are popular potted plants for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but smaller selections work well in patio pots and wall planters outdoors. They continue blooming for many weeks in shades of red, pink, lavender and white. They combine well with other plants to make stunning dish gardens.

Cyclamen must have cool temperatures. Gardeners are always tempted to nurse them through the summertime, but trust me on this one – it’s far more rewarding simply to buy fresh plants late every fall.

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Garden carnations

• Garden carnations, or double pinks (so-named because their petals look like they were trimmed with pinking shears) are delightful little winter/early spring annuals. They probably won’t make it through the heat of the summer (in spite of what the nursery tag may tell you), but they’ll certainly cheer up their surroundings well into the spring.

While the winter-hardy garden pinks often have bi-colored flowers, these solid colors are showy as well. And ever so fragrant, too!

I referred to these as “double pinks.” You’re probably familiar with regular garden pinks. They’re some of our finest mid-winter annual flowers for planting directly into beds and large patio pots. They are second only to pansies in their winter hardiness. They bloom from now clear into mid-spring in shades of red, lavender, pink and white, many with colorful bandings. They have the same clove-like fragrance of florist carnations (their cousins).

Posted by Neil Sperry
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