Colour can warm up a cool, dark spring

What are the best cool-loving plants for a great display? By far and away

I’ve never seen a year that has stayed so cold and wet even into April, and we’re all  starved for some outdoor colour.

Early cool colour plants must 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.

There are, however, a few key things to keep in mind.  Even these fairly tough plants need to be well acclimatized before being set outside.  Moving plants directly from a warm greenhouse 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 add plenty of fir or hemlock bark mulch or sawdust  to any heavy clay soils in order to lighten them up  and use well drained soils in containers.

Many of us are using more and more osteospermums, but 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.

We use all kinds of linarias in our gardens for long lasting cool colour.  They look like miniature snapdragons.  A more low spreading plant available in a good range of bright colours, you’ll find them quite striking.

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.

Two new series of smaller flowered mimulus, called ‘Calypso’ and ‘Magic’, have such vibrant colours and unusual flowers that they capture everyone’s attention.  They also come in separate colours to create 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 longlasting 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.  My latest favourite is the new ‘Matrix Morpheus’.  It’s a distinctive bicolour with mid-blue upper petals and bright yellow lower petals.  Talk about standing out in a crowd!

The new varieties of violas, the ‘Penny’ and the ‘Sorbet’ series, have improved size, a colour range to blow your socks off and a flowering time that beats them all.  Their smaller blossoms make them less formal and even more charming than pansies, and they have the ability to blend with everything in your garden from early bulbs to primulas.  Try the soft pastels like ‘Penny Primrose’, ‘Sorbet Lemon Chiffon’, ‘Penny Cream’, ‘Penny Orchid Frost’ and ‘Penny Porcelain’.  They are most effective in tiny pockets or in groupings with other companions.  Plant them early for instant and longlasting results.

These are the ‘colour now’ plants you need 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

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Trudeau says Canada wants to see ‘movement’ before signing revised NAFTA deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington in search of a way to bridge divide

Young people need us to act on climate change, McKenna tells G7 ministers

Catherine McKenna led off the three-day Halifax gathering Wednesday

UPDATE: Man arrested in shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Nobody injured in shooting, which is not believed to be related to gang conflicts

5 to start your day

B.C. parents sue after toddler dies in unlicensed daycare, vehicle explodes in Pitt Meadows and more

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

Most Read