Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on September 24, 2001. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Create victory gardens with patriotic colors
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
In recent years, requests have gone out to gardeners and commercial landscapers to plant flowers in country colors for the Palaces of St. Petersburg, Splendors of Versailles and the Majesty of Spain exhibitions in Jackson. Recent national tragedies have inspired Americans to show their colors, and flowers can be part of the waving of the red, white and blue.
You may want to think of these floral displays as the victory garden of the new war on terrorism. In World War II, victory gardens helped meet the needs of rationed goods.In many ways, Americans need to express pride in our country much like our parents and grandparents needed the staples of life from their victory gardens.
A fall and winter display of red, white and blue is a lot easier than you may think in the garden or in a container. New choices in pansies, violas, panolas, dianthus and snapdragons will make it easy and fun. They also add a dash of patriotism at a time when the country is showing the world what "land of the free and home of the brave" is all about.
Not all garden centers have cool season crops yet. If your favorite flower source doesn't, they do most likely have red and white mums that can be combined with remaining Victoria Blue salvia or salvia Indigo Spires. My first choice would be to lean toward last year's Mississippi Medallion award winning Panola Panache. The red, true blue and white would just about do the job. I have seen these at some garden centers much earlier than last year.
If you can't find Panolas, then look for Crown or Crystal Bowl pansies in solid colors and combine with one of the red dianthus like Telstar cherry. There is a new dianthus out this year called the Ideal series. There are six variety colors available, including cherry and crimson.
This should also be a great year for snapdragons with the new and improved Classic Liberty series. In the Liberty series you will find Cherry, Crimson, Scarlet and Classic White.
We are in a transition time of the year heading into fall, which lets us combine leftover summer and new fall plants for some exceptional containers. One I saw recently used Tukana red verbena, Bluebird nemesia and Compact Innocence bacopa. While these may be very hard to find, it simply points out the options that might be available if we keep our eyes open.
One other option would be to include a blue or red gazing globe in the place of that particular color of flower. In other words, blue gazing globe, red dianthus and white pansies or some combination that appeals to you. Don't forget the gazing globe was a symbol during the depression that we would come out of the financial crisis.
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.
Good things start to happen when you incorporate organic matter like humus, compost or peat into native soil. Organic matter helps loosen the soil for better water penetration and aeration leading to good root development. Remember that soil improvement is a continual process and the key to the green thumb may well come from how brown it gets first in soil preparation.
Whether you choose to go red, white, blue or none of the above, having a beautiful landscape with fall and winter flowers will make you feel better, your yard look better, and make a statement of your faith in the future and that God will bless America.