Winter Container Gardens…How do you do?

Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you have to drop gardening for the season.  There are still so many options for the cool (or cold!) season.  Think about cool season annuals such as ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, and even snap dragons. Perennials such as euphorbia, carex, acorus or evergreen ferns…and of course evergreen shrubs – the opportunities are endless! Below are some of this years containers to get me through the winter. What are you doing to get your gardening fix this winter?


Far Left: Kale Red Bor, Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Snapdragon ‘Liberty Bronze’, Heuchera ‘Black Taffeta’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ – Little Bluestem, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ – Golden Japanese Forest Grass
Far Right: Kale ‘Winter Bor’, Cabbage ‘Pigeon Red’, Carex ‘Evergold’, Euphorbia amygdaloides hybrid ‘Helena’s Blush’, Ivy – Hedra Helix ‘Yellow Ripple’, Pansy ‘Matrix Morpheous’


Variegated Iris, Euphorbia x martinii Spurge ‘Ascot Rainbow’,
Heuchera Little Cutie ‘Blondie’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Orange Jump Up’,
Rumex sanguineus – Red-Veined Dock

Not everything in your containers has to be a plant…below I added some Red Twig Dogwood branches to add some height to this container. Also think about Yellow Twig Dogwood, Birch branches or Curly Willow. These can really add another element to your cool season containers.


Kale ‘Red Bor’, Kale ‘Emperor Red’, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance – Autumn Fern,
Muehlenbeckia axillaris – Creeping Wire Vine, Pansy ‘Cool Wave Mix’,
Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Pansy ‘Delta Premium Blotched Mix’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Blue Heaven’,
Variegated Vinca Vine

Don’t forget to jazz up your stoop or patio with a great seasonal container of fragrant cut greens…


For this arrangement I taped oasis floral foam into a mache liner and went to town with a few birch logs and my greens (the Carolina Sapphire being my fave this year!). I dug out some of the soil left in my container garden from fall that finally kicked it, and dropped this arrangement right in. Just be sure to keep it watered for long lasting results.

How are you celebrating the winter gardening season at your house? Share your gardening photos with me on my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/Petalpushin!

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Spring is here…or is it?

Wow!  What a spring…or late winter!?  Just when I thought I’d seen it all, this spring has surprised me again!  So unpredictable, this Northern Virginia weather.

I’m curious, with all of this late snow this year and consistently low temperatures, did you do an early spring garden this year?  Of course I couldn’t resist!  I absolutely LOVE cool season annuals.  Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re gonna say – cool season annuals don’t last very long…BUT they pack a huge punch for an early pop of spring color!  And what else are you gonna do to put out some spring color and get your hands dirty after a long winter?!

I didn’t go crazy this year but I did do up some pots for my new front stoop (thanks to a certain talented handy man I know, we now have a beautiful new front stoop and walkway!!).  While I potted my pots way back in mid-March, and at times had to scoot them into the garage because it was just too stinkin’ cold, my house has been the most colorful one on the block!  My veggie garden (below) on the other hand got planted a few weeks later.

Thanks to all the late weather we couldn’t finish the front walk as early as we wanted to.  And in case you missed my “Front Yard Veggie Gardening” post from last summer…I do my veggie gardening in the front yard right next to my front walk!  I have to – my back yard is too shady for that stuff.  So we were a little later than I wanted to get those veggies in but we’ll see how it goes!


Does anyone else have a favorite lettuce? Mine is this cool & tasty heirloom called Flashy Trout Back. They had me at flashy!

Here are just SOME of my favorite spring bloomers:


A beautiful bright orange Ranunculus.


I seriously can’t get enough of these gorgeous colors!


I absolutely ADORE Anemone!!! Especially the doubles!


Senetti, or Pericallis, has lovely daisy-like blooms.


Stock is a great one to add some height to a container or the garden…and it smells sooooo good! This one is called ‘Hot Cakes Mix’.

Here’s what I put together for the front porch this year:


Yellow Ranunculus (the most gorgeous I’ve seen – my grower did such a great job, he
truly knocked my socks off with these!), Stock ‘Hot Cakes Mix’ (fragrant), Nemesia ‘Angelart Raspberry’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


This is what I call my “Antique Pot” this year. It includes Pansy ‘Imperial Antique Shades’,
Antique Ranunculus, Erysimum ‘Poem Lavender’, Nemesia ‘Angelart Almond’


A shot of the group. In the small square pot is Hellebore ‘Penny’s Pink’,
Erysimum canaries, Dianthus sunflor ‘Olivia’, Viola ‘Angel Tiger Eye’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


Orange Ranunculus, Ranunculus ‘Bloomingdale Mix’,
Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Yellow’ (fragrant), Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Orange’ (fragrant),
Senetti, Pansy (variety unknown)


Anemone ‘Pandora’ Double Fuchsia, Anemone ‘Galilee Mix’,
Snapdragon ‘Snapshot Yellow’, Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)




Tell me how you celebrated the arrival of spring. Please feel free to leave comment here or share a pic on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Petalpushin or on Instagram and tag me @Petalpushin. Looking forward to checking out your spring color creations!!!

It’s fall veggie time!

Gone are the days of countless fresh tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, squash, eggplant, cucumber and more.  If you’re like me, maybe you have a couple producers still left in the garden that you just couldn’t bare to rip out, but most of my summer veggies are gone now.  So what’s next?  Back to cool season veggies!

What’s the difference between cool season veggies and summer veggies?  One main difference is that most summer veggies are actually fruits and cool season veggies are true veggies.  Cool season veggies are grown for their leaves (like lettuce, collards, etc), roots (like beets, radishes, etc), flower heads (like broccoli, cauliflower, etc), and bulbs (like onions, leeks, etc).  Summer veggies are mostly grown for their fruits like the ones listed previously.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic region we have two cool growing seasons – spring and fall.

In one of my earlier posts you saw my summer veggie garden in my front yard…since my back yard is mostly shade it’s difficult to grow many edibles there, so I have to get creative.  Now I want to show you my front yard cool season garden.  Since a neighborhood bunny visited my house recently and snacked on my new veggie starts (which was on today’s to do list to get in the ground), I’ll have to share my photos from this past spring.  But don’t worry, I’ll be growing the same veggies this season as you see in the photos in a similar configuration.  Also please take note that I don’t have a HUGE area that I grow in, so don’t think you have to have a large piece of land to grow your own veggies.

And don’t forget herbs too!  Many are perennial and now is still a great time to plant those too.

This is what I started with:


Then I added these guys:


The final product:

Growing up and getting bigger:





A few close-ups:






And now we get to eat!

Cooling off with Fall Annuals

Well, here we are, at my favorite time of year…ALREADY!    As some of my summer annuals are starting to, well, not look quite as nice as they once did, I’m ripping them out of my containers and landscape and replacing with some freshies that can perform a little better in the cooler season.  While my summer annuals could certainly make it through until frost, it’s always nice to mix in some new fall varieties as well so my pots aren’t looking so tired.

So, what plants define fall to you?  Most people say Mums or Pansies, or even Ornamental Cabbage and Kale.  My favorite is the fall blooming Celosia, Celosia Intenz.  I love this plant, and every year we can never keep it in stock at the Garden Center.  It’s not your typical bronze or yellow fall color (which don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that too), but its a bright fuchsia color which adds a nice pop to a fall mix.  It’s also on the taller side so it can give a little height to a container and has a unique bloom shape which adds some awesome texture.

Celosia Intenz

Some of my other favorite fall flowers include the Efanthia Euphorbia and Helena’s Blush Euphorbia (the variegated variety), both of which are actually perennials.  The fall interest is their foliage which turns more burgundy as the temperature drops and their interesting shape also adds some great texture.

Efanthia Euphorbia

I’m also a huge fan of Nemesia, my favorite being Sunsatia Mango.  I’m so in love with this color!  And it performs very well in the cool season.  It definitely pitters out in the heat of the summer but a couple years ago I had it come back for me again in the fall…but I had the patience, or the laziness, to let it do that!  The rest of the Sunsatia Series (by Proven Winners)  is great too, but Mango is the prettiest in my opinion.

Sunsatia Mango Nemesia, Photo Credit: Proven Winners

I also like the Aromatica Scarlet Nemesia and Aromatica Sky Blue Nemesia.  Both are simply beautiful and wonderfully fragrant.

Aromatica Scarlet Nemesia, Photo Credit: Ball Horticulture Company

Aromatica Sky Blue Nemesia

So, like I said before, your summer annuals can most certainly go til frost, and some can even take a light frost too.  But sometimes after a long summer some of those annuals can just look a little tired.  There are some that perform well in the summer heat and can also tolerate those chilly temps that fall can bring.  Calibrachoa and Petunias are great examples of this.

Calibrachoa Superbells Lemon Slice

Petunia Pinstripe

We carry these guys spring, summer and fall…just be sure to watch your watering on those petunias in the heat – they can get thirsty.  I even conducted a small experiment early this spring and sacrificed one 4″ pot of calibrachoa, you know, in the name of science.  Well, the exciting part of this story is that I left this little guy out all by himself in the 28 degree cold of night and he was totally fine!   Now, I don’t think we got a true frost that night but it got darn cold!

OH!  And one more I absolutely cannot leave out is the Kent Beauty Ornamental Oregano.  This is hands down one of my faves and is actually a perennial I often winter over to include in many of my containers.  I keep a stock of these guys in the Annuals Department throughout the growing season because they perform so well in mixed containers.

Kent Beauty Ornamental Oregano

So, what are you doing in YOUR garden to spruce it up for the cool season coming up?  Inquiring minds want to know!