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Southern California Gardening: Have Flowers Every Day

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Here in Southern California we have the joy of gardening every day of the year—and can always have flowers blooming.

cutting garden near a gate

By Evelyn Alemanni

Impressionist painter Claude Monet famously said, “Flowers, I must have flowers, always, and always.” Perhaps he meant “always and ALL WAYS?” Here in Southern California we have the joy of gardening every day of the year, and can always have flowers blooming.

annuals and perennials

A few years ago I challenged myself to make a bouquet every day from whatever was blooming in my yard, and the result was four volumes of flower arrangements in a book series called Fleurs du Jour (Flowers of the Day). So, I know firsthand that having flowers every day, “always and all ways,” is achievable.

You probably have flowers in your garden all year too. If not, make it a gardening goal. It’s amazing, when you stop to think about it, that we have so many sources of flowers, including bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. By doing a little research on bloom times, you’ll never be without beautiful, bountiful blossoms.

freesias and hyacinths

Spring and summer blooms: For spring flowers, fall bulb planting is in order. Think freesia, anemones, ranunculus, narcissus, daffodils, calla lilies, and Dutch iris. If you’re ambitious, consider hyacinths and tulips (but remember, you need to chill them at least six weeks before planting). Plant bulbs for summer bloom in early spring, dahlias and gladiolus included.

poppies and nasturtiums

Good to Know: If you missed the bulb-planting dates, the Lowe’s garden center often has those flowers in pots, ready to make an impression in your garden beds.

Annuals are plants that live only a few months but offer lots of flowers. For an added benefit, many annuals self-sow, scattering their seeds here and there to surprise us next year with lots of new plants. Some examples are poppies, nasturtiums, violas, statice, foxgloves, sweet peas, forget-me-nots, nicotiana, strawflowers and columbine. Of course they need a start the first year—either with seed packets or plants from the garden center, which is the easiest and most reliable way to get started.

roses and alstroemerias

Good to Know: You can extend bloom time by regularly picking bouquets and/or cutting off dead flowers.

Perennials are the workhorses of the garden. These plants may die back (not all do) and re-emerge the following year. So when they die back, don’t pull them out! Just cut off the dead foliage and let the roots rest. Examples of perennials are Gerbera daisies, geraniums, rudbeckia, daylilies, agapanthus, sea lavender, kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos), perennial morning glory and alstroemeria. As with annuals, you can remove spent flowers to encourage reblooming.

Graham Thomas climbing rose

Shrubs are additional sources of flowers. Consider planting azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas, lavender, lantana, viburnum, angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia spp.) and roses.

Orange blossoms

When planning for blooms, remember to consider trees. Citrus and fruit trees of all kinds offer wonderfully fragrant flowers in spring; you can use them in bouquets if you’re willing to sacrifice some fruit yield. Other blooming trees include jacaranda, which has fabulous purple flowers in May, and many kinds of acacia, which are often the first trees to bloom in February and March.

Good to Know: Fall is the best time to plant shrubs, trees and perennials. You can plant annuals according to the timing shown on the seed package, or whenever they are available in the garden center.

Get planting, and before you know it, you’ll have your own “fleurs du jour.”

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