Add a splash of spring colour

Brian Minter offers tips on how to add a little early spring colour to your garden

  • Apr. 1, 2018 8:30 a.m.

Brian Minter

Special to The Progress

At this time of year, we’re all starved for some outdoor colour, especially when winter lingers on. Many early cool colour plants should be able to handle unexpected late frosts, cold winds and lots of very heavy rain. This is no small task! Fortunately, over the past few years, some wonderful new plant varieties have found their way into the market, and let me assure you, they are up to all of these challenges.

Even so, there are a few key things to keep in mind. These fairly tough plants still need to be well acclimatized before being set outside. Moving plants directly from warm greenhouses to the cold outdoors will cause too much stress and will seriously set the plants back, especially if the weather is very windy and cool. The second thing to keep in mind is drainage. Make an extra effort to mix in plenty of fir or hemlock bark mulch or sawdust to any heavy clay soils in order to lighten them up and improve drainage and in containers, be sure to use a well-drained soil.

Many of us are using more and more osteospermums, and the newer and much improved varieties have certainly made a huge difference. These cool and wet loving, brilliant multi-coloured daisies are so refreshing in an early garden. They stay low spreading and blend beautifully with early bulbs, pansies and early perennials like arabis and aubrieta. They are also equally at home in containers or in ground beds.

Nemesias, whether the more trailing ‘Sunsatia’ types for baskets and containers or the newer ‘Sundrops’ bedding varieties, both are ideal for some splashes of old-fashioned charm. They love morning sun and afternoon shade, and when it does finally become warmer, they will keep going for the longest time.

The new series of smaller flowered mimulus, like ‘Magic’, have unusual vibrant flowers and are ideal for creating some interesting combinations. The ivory, ivory bi-colour, yellow, yellow bi-colour, orange, red and crimson varieties, blended with blue violas, are simply breathtaking. Plant them in shady spots for the best long-lasting results. You’ll be amazed how well they perform in cool temperatures.

Marguerite daisies are truly remarkable plants that simply bloom their hearts out in early cool weather. Today, their compact habit and wide range of colours, from yellows, whites and pinks to reds and bronze-orange make them so versatile in many situations.

What are the best cool-loving plants for a great display? By far and away, the top performers are violas and pansies. Pansies may be old-fashioned favourites, but the colour range of pansies today is fabulous, especially some of the new designer colours like creams, pink blends and happy, bright citrus blends.

The new varieties of violas have improved size, a colour range to blow your socks off and a flowering time that beats them all. Compared to pansies, their smaller blossoms make them less formal and even more charming, and they can blend with everything in your garden from early bulbs to primulas.

Snapdragons, once hardened off, will stand up to occasional heat or cool wet conditions. They usually come as low, compact, mid-sized, multi-branching types and of course, the tall varieties as well.

Stocks, with their lovely perfume, can also take the variability of spring weather, but they prefer morning sun and afternoon shade for the best results.

Don’t forget to accent each of these annuals with some neat long-blooming or evergreen perennials, like euphorbias and heucheras, or with vibrant ornamental grasses, like carex and fescues.

These are the ‘colour plants you need now’ for your garden to give both of you a lift. These are the plants that will take the weather abuse and keep on giving. These are the ‘feel good now and even better later’ plants that will make a big difference in your garden this year. Marigolds, salvias, geraniums and petunias are already in some garden stores and even though it’s tempting, please hold off planting them until at least mid to late May – they need warmth to thrive.

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema wins Sport B.C. award

The honours keep coming for Huitema, who is in the spotlight with Canada’s national soccer squad.

See stunning sights and amazing adventures at mountain film fest in Chilliwack

Discover what’s in our own backyard with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival tour

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from March 18 to 24

Harrison considers future of memorial bench program

Harrison to keep maintaining bench plaques, council seems to feel new benches could be in the future

The complete history of science in one hour at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

We Now Know is a complete history lesson without the boring stuff

B.C. resident baffled about welcome mat theft

Security footage shows a woman and her dog taking the mat from the property on March 13

Father thanks B.C. Mountie for shooting hoops with kids, ‘changing perspectives’

‘We’re just like everyone else,’ says Surrey officer who stopped to play basketball with kids

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Trans Mountain court hearing: B.C. says it won’t reject pipelines without cause

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

B.C. father fights for his life after flu turns into paralyzing condition

Reisig has lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements.

B.C. wildfire prevention budget bulked up as dry spring unfolds

Night vision goggles tested for early detection effort

Vernon ordered to reinstate terminated firefighters caught having sex at work

City believes arbitration board erred, exploring options

Most Read