Add color to your spring

Gardening column
By: Kurt Voigt, Special to The News Messenger
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This is definitely the most beautiful time of year to experience vivid colors, clear air and interesting weather. Living in the country part of Lincoln, I love this time of year with bright green grass, blue skies, brown oaks, and on some days, white clouds. The colors are so vivid and crisp because of the clean air after a rain or north, dry wind. It’s especially refreshing after the gray skies and rain we’ve had so far this winter. As March descends upon us, I can’t help but start to think of how to spruce up the planters and pots. Hopefully, after this last round of storms, we’ll be done with the cold night temperatures and frost. Now that my orchard is pruned and sprayed, my citrus is almost all harvested and roses pruned, I can start to work on my landscape. It’s calling my name! Some excellent annual color choices that I’ve had good experience with are chrysanthemum paludosum, pansy, dianthus, iberis sempervirens and primrose. My paludosums come up every fall with the first couple of rains and bloom all winter, spring and into summer, although the summer heat is too much for them and they die off. But they are very hardy, taking on frosty nights and blooming strong. Paludosums have bright white daisy-like flowers with medium green foliage much like the Euryops daisy. They are a great border plant, only getting 8-12 inches and are a great commercial choice for planting because of their size, hardiness, and durability. I use them in a plant hierarchy with pansies in the foreground because they grow lower than the paludosums. Primrose can be planted now with blooms that will last until late spring or early summer before the heat comes. They are low maintenance with flowers that last a long time before deadheading. Pansies can be planted in the fall for an early winter bloom and can last until May at my house before the heat arrives. Most winter color will last until late spring. Pansies are definitely my favorite because of the different color combinations you can make with all the choices and they’ll bloom all winter and spring. They are the best bloomers, in my opinion. I look for bloom time and maintenance when choosing annuals because, with what you pay for annual color that doesn’t last more than three to six months, you want your money’s worth. Dianthuses are rich with deep cool colors, have a sweet aroma and add a contrasting splash of color with the gray foliage and flower color. Check out your local nursery or garden center and view the color palette before you plant. You might be overwhelmed but here are a few tips: • Choose your color palette, i.e. blue/yellow, red/orange, blue/white and so forth. • Look for plant hierarchy; tall in the back, low in front, or medium in the middle if using three different plants. • Look for bloom longevity — how long is this bloom going to last? • Purchase strong, sturdy, plants with half unopened buds. Note: A helpful tip is to pick up some MiracleGro liquid fertilizer for bloom and feed them every two weeks for continuous, healthy blooms and plants. Have fun and enjoy the vivid, clear, spring colors we are blessed with here in California. Disneyland may be the “happiest place on Earth” but California is the most beautiful place on Earth! In two weeks, I’ll talk about the deciduous, flowering shrubs you see in and around Lincoln. Reach Kurt Voigt, landscape designer/consultant, at