By Jodi Torpey
“Unsettled” is the best way to describe spring weather in the Mountain region. It’s typical for a 70-degree day to be followed the next with a 40-degree drop in temperature and blowing snow. Those wild temperature swings are tough on gardeners, and their spring gardens.
The best way to cope with our region’s crazy climate is to plant the kinds of cold-hardy flowers that sudden snowstorms don’t faze. Despite its wimpy name, the pansy is the perfect flower for Mountain region gardens.
You can find a pansy to fit any space. Plant large flowers in many colors along borders, and place smaller varieties by the front door to welcome visitors. Pansies will droop under the weight of snow but pop back up once the sun returns.
Snapdragons are other hardy spring flowers for cold-weather gardens. “Snaps” are colorful, easy-to-grow annuals that add a bit of height to the flowerbed. If you plant snapdragons now you’ll be able to enjoy the flowers into summer.
Plant dianthus in a sunny spot in spring and this annual will provide long-lasting color. You can choose many varieties, from a single deep color to a bicolor pattern; from small blooms to extra-large flowers. One of my favorites is ‘Corona Cherry Magic’ because the flower color is unpredictable; some blooms will be all red, others lavender, and some a combination of the two.
Every Mountain region garden should have at least one blue and white ‘Rocky Mountain’ columbine in the landscape. This perennial can grow in most soils and is easy to plant and maintain. A prime spot for planting is anywhere columbines can get 4–6 hours of sun each day.
Do you have a favorite spring flower? Perhaps this tour of cold-hardy pansies will inspire you to get planting on the next warm day.