Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2010
Regional Report

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Prolific-blooming purple stock brightens the garden for many months.

Ending One Year and Beginning the Next-- With Color!

Now that the gloom-- or at least the chill-- of winter has set in, be sure to add a bit of bloom, a chit of color, a dab of drama to your landscape! There truly is brilliance to life beyond the last sunset-hued leaf drifting down from trees and the last of the summer edibles! Annuals, perennials, bulbs and shrubs all offer exquisite reasons for planting now to enjoy for several months. Here are ten to get you started.

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) makes delicate ground cover that readily reseeds itself into seemingly "everbloomingness."

Calendula's pumpkin-orange and sunflower-yellow blooms keep coming all winter long, ultimately succumbing to warm weather and gangliness-- but not before sowing lots of crescent-shaped seeds that then sprout into new generations for years to come.

Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule), with its oversized but delicate, crepe-paper blooms on spindly yet strong stalks, sways with the slightest breeze but withstands even winter's gales. Nothing's quite so promising as its upturning flower head as it unfurls like a glisteningly moist butterfly.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), the great standby of end-of-the-year holidays, continues to surprise and delight with its new color and size variations.

English and fairy primroses (Primula polyantha and P. malacoides) are the princesses of the winter garden. Tiny dancers in frilly skirts on tall stems lighten up gloomy days, both in stop-motion calmness and during furiously-dancing gales.

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) is indispensable in the garden for anyone who grew up pinching the blooms into talking dragons. With the tall-to-short, huge-to-tiny, and early-to-late variations in plants, flowers, and bloom periods, there's always at least one to enjoy.

Stock (Matthiola incana), sturdy as its name, offers attractive, long-leaved, blue-gray foliage sparked up by multi-colored clusters of long-lasting fragrance. Bloomed-out seedheads send off lots of seed that easily sprouts for repeat color throughout the year.

Pansies, violas and violets (Viola) are, like snapdragons, updated versions of flower-people from younger times. No wonder Johnny-jump-ups and fragrant violets repopulate many adults' gardens!

Flowering cabbage and kale, though non-bloomers, are colorful compatriots. From white to chartreuse, pink and purple, their crinkled rosettes are unvarying gems throughout the long lasting winter chill.

Primrose jasmine (Jasminum mesnyi) is not fragrant, but its grand, sweeping mounds of lemon-yellow, two-inch-wide, double blooms make a great cover for pergola or wall, or it can be trimmed into a hedge.

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