Garden Gnome: Time to plant pansies, violas and other fall and winter annuals

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As anyone who had a chance to spend even a few minutes outside this past week can attest, this is the absolute best time of the year.

Sure, in April there are azaleas blooming and Masters excitement, but there’s something about the cooler temperature and bright blue sky that is Zen-like.

And there’s pansies with their pretty little faces that laugh in the face of cold temperatures and freezes. We are so fortunate to live in a place where we can have flowers year-round.

No bad-mouthing pansies now. They may be just annuals and the violas are small, but what they lack in size they make up for in an amazing combination of delicate beauty and toughness.

Last weekend I raced through my chores and managed to make it to Bedfords Greenhouse before closing time. The hardest part, which seems true every year, was deciding what color to choose. Our house is red brick so I shy away from red pansies, though I do love them, and generally end up with purple because I’m mad for purple in the landscape, but this year I decided to go with pink. Maybe seeing all the pink this month brainwashed me, but Bedfords have (I didn’t take them all) these oh-so- sweet, rather old-fashioned, pastel pink pansies I couldn’t resist.

OK, I still pick up a couple of purple and yellow violas and I had to try out the new Wave pansies in bright yellow, but the flat purchase was reserved for pink.

If you haven’t put in annuals for fall and winter, there’s still time, but you might want to start with a larger container if you have to wait much longer. There are several other annuals that will thrive in the cold, and there are fabulous fall, ornamental vegetables that you can use to create wonderful arrangements.

We should all find reasons to be out in the garden as much as possible now.

FLAVORS OF FALL FESTIVAL

Cold Creek Nurseries at 398 Hitchcock Parkway in Aiken is celebrating The Flavors of Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

There will be tree and shrub planting at 11 a.m., and winter color containers at 1 p.m. Locally produced apple butter, jams, jellies and baked goods will be for sale, and free caramel apples, popcorn and soda will be provided. Canned-food donations will be collected.


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