In My Garden (Zone 7-8)
I’ve been chomping at the bit to actually plant things. While January wasn’t particularly cold, it was gloomy. It’s still a bit early for much besides peas, but, in our growing zones, we can sow cool weather annual flower seeds directly into the garden. They’ll sprout when the conditions are right, and we’ll have gorgeous flowers blooming starting in April or so.
I’m not very organized with the way I plant things. I tend to just dump all of my cutting flower seeds in a cup, stir them around, and then scatter them about like chicken feed. Charming, right? What you end up with when you do this is a chaotic mass of blooms. If you have an area with full sun that you can designate as a cutting garden, try this. It really is fun. I have my “throw it and grow it” area near the street and I love watching people walk by and stare at it! They always smile, even though it’s kind of a mess. That’s why I love gardening. It’s something that has the power to bring communities together, even if just for a few minutes.
What to Plant in Your Winter Flower Garden
For the "throw it and grow it" mix I dump packets of violas alyssum cornflowers, California poppies, and calendula. I absolutely love the Amber Kiss Violas. They are so incredibly striking if you plant them with the Burgundy Beauties Cornflowers. The cornflowers will really draw out the purple tones in the violas. I would plant the Royal Carpet Alyssum with that color combo. (I love purple)
California poppies are so easy to grow. Mix them with orange and yellow calendula for a sunny, cheerful mass of color.
For The Vegetable Garden
Beyond the wild flower garden in my front yard, I enjoy the winter gardening season because it’s the ideal time to grow nasturtiums. I’ve known people who have had trouble growing these flowers, but I think the secret is to make sure to nick the seed coat before planting. I actually use a pair of nail clippers to clip a little piece of the shell to make sure water can easily penetrate the seed coat before the seed rots in the ground. (One year I used my teeth and bit the seeds. Then I reminded myself that “teeth are not tools.”)
like the deep red flowers of “Empress of India” Nasturtium, but I'm excited to try growing the re-introduced "Phoenix" Nasturtiums with pinked edged flowers this year. Nasturtiums can act as trap crops in the vegetabl garden - giving pests like aphids something to munch on instead of the veggies. These cool weather bloomers do double duty so plant them around the edges of your vegetable plot or raised beds.