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. . . And General December Care Tips

December 07, 1991

Gardens often seem forlorn and forgotten when gray skies linger overhead, but there are lots of blooming flowers that love the cool temperatures of winter and early spring. Listed below are some of the hardier ones:

English primrose (Primula polyantha) : It's a sturdy variety with a 12-inch stem sporting a large cluster of inch-wide flowers and available in a wide range of colors.

Fairy primrose (Primula malacoides) : You'll find pale green leaves with a whorl of lacy, loose flowers. It blooms January through April and is available in white, pink, rose, red and lavender.

Pansies & violas: These hardy annuals will bloom through winter and spring until hot weather hits. They provide the best color. Full sun or half day is fine. Feed monthly with a fertilizer. Get familiar with the new varieties of pansies - the Cloud Series. It has two-inch flowers with a dark blotched face.

Iceland poppy: A bright, translucent poppy flower crowns a 12-inch stem. It does best in full sun. Protect from wind. It is available in a variety of colors.

Sweet peas: Plant seeds for early spring color. Available in mixed or straight colors. It needs support for best results. Fragrant flowers.

Calendula: Known as the "winter marigold," this annual puts out bright splashes of yellow, orange or apricot colors in full sun areas. Blooms through early spring in mild areas. You'll get heights to about two feet. It provides good cut flowers.

Cineraria: You'll get great shade color for your yard. It's available in heights from nine inches to a variety which grows just over two feet tall. Colors range from white, blue, lavender and pink. It blooms late winter until early spring. Protect from frost.

Persimmon trees: A fabulous sight in autumn and early winter. Their foliage will turn yellow, orange or scarlet depending on the cultivar used and after this falls off, the orange scarlet fruit appear. All this happens even in the mild coastal areas. The fruit of the persimmon is delicious when ripe, and many make jam out of it. Others simply harvest the fruit to decorate their holiday centerpiece. The persimmon in an all-round tree for any garden. It grows up to 30 feet. The Oriental or Japanese persimmon and the American persimmon are the two most commonly grown in the West.

Source: California Assn. of Nurserymen.

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