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Cool season containers can be perfume factories
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The change in gardening seasons has given many gardeners a renewed enthusiasm for getting some dirt on their hands. One reason to celebrate the cool season is that it holds great promise for creating small perfume factories near outdoor areas where visitors gather or family frequents.
Plants such as the Citrona erysimum, nemesia, pansy, viola and sweet alyssum can be combined in artful displays that catch the eye with their vivid colors and capture the nose with their lovely fragrances.
The new Velocity Lemon Plum Picotee viola offers its own version of the complementary color scheme without even having a partner. One reason pansies and violas are so loved is for their colors, and another is for their delightful fragrances. Add Vanilla Sachet nemesia to the mix and you'll come under the “spell of the smell.” Nemesia is related to the snapdragon and is planted in the same season.
Another in the Velocity series is Velocity Purple Bicolor, which further demonstrates the extraordinary colors and flower power of violas. It also shows that when it comes to pansies, bigger is not always better. These are extremely cold tolerant and have shown remarkable heat tolerance once spring begins to retreat.
Velocity Purple Bicolors and Sachet Vanilla nemesias form a combination that is both exquisitely beautiful in its color contrast and delightfully scented. The violas are fragrant and, with the Sachet Vanilla nemesias, absolutely tantalizing.
Cool season container gardening is also a time to create bowls or planters using several plants.
I saw one last year that had incredible color and was a true perfume delight. The tallest plant was a member of the cabbage family called Citrona orange, which was a fiery contrast with the purple from Matrix pansies and alyssum. Sorbet Sunny Royale viola was unique in that it either harmonized or contrasted with every other plant in the container. Easter Bonnet alyssum softly tumbled over the rim of container.
Many gardeners overlook alyssum, which is a cool season performer useful for its beauty and fragrance. The Easter Bonnet series has long been a favorite, but look for the new Alyssum Clear Crystals. This series is the first tetraploid alyssum, and it has larger flowers that boast a lot of color and fragrance.
Let alyssum gently cascade over the rim of your containers or window boxes. As a border plant in the landscape, it can soften the harsh, straight lines of sidewalks or square beds by creeping over the edge and adding some curves.
It is very important in the cool season to use a good, lightweight potting mix. Containers must have good moisture and nutrient-holding capacity but also drain freely so flowers are not sitting in soggy, cold soil.
I have mentioned a lot of new varieties, but don't fret if these aren't at your garden center yet. When you visit, you will see more new, colorful flowers than you ever thought possible for the cool season landscape or container garden.