Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Current State: Hope for Winter

Lots of Green and Leaf Litter
Current State:  Winter Ho Hum!

Some people say you learn a lot by reading, and that is certainly true.  But I am the type of person that learns best by watching.  A new favorite gardening show of ours is Central Texas Gardner which airs on Saturdays on KNCT (our local PBS station).  The current segment they have up is a show that aired in the fall regarding winter color.  In snapping a few photos today, it is clear to see that we have a lot of green for the dead of winter, which is good.  But we do not have a lot of color.  In watching the segment this morning, I have been inspired to begin work on my New Year's Resolution (which is to help Pat more in the garden) by going out and buying a lot of plants!

Some of the winter color plants they suggested surprised me.  They suggest many plants beyond dianthus and pansies.  Kale, alyssum, cyclamen and dusty miller, all favorites of mine, are among the plants mentioned.  Two plants surprise me.  One is cyclamen, because I always think of it as being a house plant.  And if I recall correctly they can be expensive, especially if it is treated as an annual.  I am not sure I'll be planting cyclamen this time.  Another surprise is alyssum.  I always thought that was a spring flower, but they say it is definitely a cold flowering plant.  On P. Allen Smith's blog, he commented that alyssum will flower, die and even come back in some cases.  That sounds like a good one for me! 

Where I will experiment!
In looking around the garden I found where my experiment will take place.  Because I am a  lazy--uh, I mean--an inexperienced gardener, I have selected the bed near the house--uh, closest to the water source--to plant my winter color.  This is a good bed to select because we haven't really found anything that grows well here other than monkey grass.  Plus it is a small space and will likely catch my eye for attention.

So, what shall I plant? Well, for starters it will largely depend upon what is available at the local greenhouses. A trip to Bonnie's is in store for me this week for sure! I am hoping to find some dusty miller, kale, and alyssum. I am not thinking that planting seeds right now is a wise choice, so whatever I plant will need to be already started. A bag of compost will be necessary, too. Ugh. Sounds like work already!

Winter Mulch

In viewing the segment currently on CTG's website, they talk about the importance of mulching in the wintertime.  Mulch is expensive, and Pat has experimented with a lot of different types of mulches, but one thing he does well is he doesn't rake the leaves.  Or, if he does, he puts all the leaf litter in our flower beds.  What I didn't realize, and probably should have, is this provides protection for all those beneficial garden types such as lizards and garden snakes.  In looking at the bed I will experiment in, I will be sure to carefully remove the leaves and put them back once all the plants are in.  At least that won't cost us any money!!

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