I love pansies in my spring planters, but sometimes my winter weary heart cries out for more. I look in vane at garden shops for other types of ‘annuals’ that will bloom their little heads off and still happily take a light frost. They’re out there, but we’ve been trained to expect pansies in the spring, and mums in the fall. It drives me a bit crazy. There are so many other lovely plants in the garden world that will thrive through some crazy temps, and we’re never given the chance to purchase and enjoy them. Mass growers dictate our choices. I visited a local garden center recently (not a big box) looking for some early veggie plants, and was happy/sad to see snapdragons and stock – two plants that can take the cold. I bought the snaps to place in window boxes (along with other plants that are decidedly not cold tolerant) but the stock was so far gone, I didn’t even bother with a photo. I had visited this garden center about five weeks before (fruit tree purchases) and would have grabbed some then to fill my planters. Where were they? And who would buy the pitiful examples they were now trying to sell???
And I adore stock. It’s so pretty and as an added bonus, wonderfully fragrant. I used to be able to find it at a grower several years back. I’d fill window boxes outside our bedroom with it and let the fragrance flow through. Amazing!
I know many of you are asking why don’t I just start them on my own? My answer: I want instant gratification when it comes to ‘annual’ flowers. There’s nothing better than coming home with a car load of ‘spring’! Maybe one day I’ll succumb to rows of seedlings under grow lights, but at this point I can’t bring myself to start anything other than veggies and perennials.
So what else likes to grow in seasons reserved for Pansies and Mums? What plants actually thrive in cooler temperatures??? Calendula, dianthus, osteospermum, sweet peas (also fabulously fragrant), alyssum, snapdragons, violas, stock, bachelor buttons, lobelia (little blue flower) and larkspur to name a few… and yes, Kale, Mums and Pansies should still be relied on – they’e classics for a reason after all. I’m just hoping for a little diversity at the garden center and my planters in the years to come.
Thanks as always for reading EG. Happy planting!