On Gardening: Show ‘Old Glory’ colors in a 2020 spirit garden

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Americans have been showing their colors a lot since the coronavirus showed up as a special and surely unwanted spring guest. Just as red, white and blue stirs the heart and sends a message as Old Glory hangs from the door, your flowers can echo the theme throughout the landscape.

You may want to think of these floral displays as the victory gardens of the coronavirus era. Last week I wrote about the idea of a 2020 victory garden to teach your children while at the same time helping provide a few staples for the dinner table. You have to agree there is nothing better than a homegrown tomato.

A summer display of red, white and blue however is also easy to develop either in the garden or in a container on the porch patio or deck. Today’s choices in flowers make it easy to hit a proverbial home run and it is both easy and fun. They will also add a dash of patriotism at a time when the country is coming together in a spirit of unity for future generations.

Garden centers are well-stocked with a great selection of high-quality transplants ready to transform your landscape into a showy flower garden and help you start your 2020 victory vegetable garden. Depending on where you live and your state’s regulations, you may have to make a call to your garden center first. Going to this extra effort just may be your most patriotic step in developing your garden.

White in the flag is the color of purity and innocence. The Garden Guy would start here with Proven Winner’s new Superbena Whiteout Verbena. With flowers almost as large as a tennis ball, it will be the flash that gets your patriotic flower border or containers quickly noticed. Equally incredible would be Snow Princess sweet alyssum. I know that sounds dainty, but in reality, this winner of 224 awards will create a blanket of tiny white flowers and will probably be one of the toughest plants you’ll ever grow.

Red symbolizes hardiness and valor while creating both passion and excitement. If you are growing in baskets or containers, consider the new Superbells Tabletop Red calibrachoa. Debuting this year, it has already won awards from LSU to Michigan State and west to Oregon State. It is more compact with a spread of 16 inches. If you need more spread then select Superbells Cherry Red calibrachoa that spreads outward 24 inches. In the landscape bed consider Supertunia Really Red, the name says it all.

Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice. This is the Garden Guy’s go to color in garden. This year I will be using Rockin Blue Suede Shoes salvia. Though it is lighter than “flag blue” it nothing short of a “holy wow.” The blue will stand out as the perfect thriller in containers or landscape plantings, all the while bringing in hummingbirds and butterflies. If growing in baskets you’ll want something shorter, so by all means consider Whirlwind Blue scaevola. Its award list is large with Perfect Score and Top Performer designations across the country.

Prepare the bed before planting the red, white and blue garden. Purchase landscape soil mixes by the bag, cubic yard or truck full. When you look at the price by the cubic yard, you’ll see it is a small price to pay for the key ingredient that will give you the green thumb.

Most gardeners I talk to are plagued with a tight clay soil. Clay particles are the smallest of all soils. Because of their small size, they are easier to compact, keeping out not only water but also air. Whether you want to go with a landscape mix or simply work in organic matter, your flower success starts at ground level.

Whether you choose to go red, white, blue or none of the above, having a beautiful landscape with summer flowers will make you feel better, will make your yard look better, and will make a statement of your faith in the future of our great country.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)


©2020 Norman Winter

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