Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
January, 2006
Regional Report

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Catalogs can help inspire new ideas for the landscape!

It's Garden Planning Time

In July my mailbox is surrounded with vibrantly colored annuals. In January, flowers bloom on the inside, compliments of dozens of mail-order seed catalogs. Page upon page of cheerful offerings remind me that spring is only a couple of months away. The arrival of seed catalogs signals me that it's time to get out pencil and paper and plan some spectacular beds and borders.

Selecting Some Winners
Catalog and Web site plant descriptions and beautiful photos transport me from the rainy reality of winter in the Pacific Northwest to a summer garden bursting with color and heady with fragrance. I'm especially drawn to winners of the All-America field trials. This nationwide trial program awards the best annual flowers and vegetables each year. The chosen varieties are marked with an AAS-winner label. How could any plant selected for such a distinction fail to thrive in my garden?

Induced by an enchanting collection of seed catalogs, one can easily get carried away with wishes and dreams. That's what makes planning on paper a must. Gardening on paper means you can rearrange plants without a trowel -- something infinitely easier than slogging around in the mud on a wet, wintry day.

Selecting Bright Flowers
I'll admit I prefer flowers in bright, bold colors, but having flowers of varying shades and hues in unexpected spots makes a garden much more interesting. This year I'll devote a corner bed to plants that bloom in pastel colors. I'm planning on planting mounds of Phlox drummondii 'Coral Reef'. It's heavy with blooms in soft shades of apricot, shell pink, and creamy yellow. For an element of surprise, I'll dot the bed with Zinnia elegans 'Envy', featuring a chartreuse green flower.

Including Green Flowers
Speaking of green-flowered plants, more and more are becoming available, and I think they're intriguing enough to include a few in the garden, just for fun. Some I'll grow this year are nicotiana 'Lime Green', amaranthus 'Green Thumb' (Amaranthus caudatus 'Viridis'), and bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis).

As you're planning this year's garden, try adding something you've never grown before. Who knows -- you may find a brand new favorite plant!

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