In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
August, 2012
Regional Report

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The compact coneflower Little Annie partners well with a annual marigolds.

Discover Pleasing Plant Combinations

As a garden writer I'm often asked to grow and evaluate some of the newer varieties of plants being introduced by plant breeders and growers. As many of you have already experienced and learned, climate, soil and location can have a direct bearing on how well plants will grow, perform, and survive.

I'm not a traditional gardener but rather like to stick plants in unexpected places to create interest and color. It's a good way to stumble on plant combinations that are eye-catching.

At the family farmstead I decided to spruce up the unused space near the entry gate by planting some colorful flowers. After pulling out the weeds last fall, I heeled in a Proven Winners coneflower, Echinacea 'Little Annie', rather than leaving it in the container to overwinter. To my delight this coneflower grew back this spring, so I left it were it was. It needed some companions so I scattered some leftover marigold seeds nearby for some quick color. Luckily the deer and rabbits have left this little space alone.

Now with the heat of July and August this entry garden is bursting with color. The marigolds are easy to grow and will bloom reliably up to frost. They have few pest and disease problems, except for an occasional earwig that destroys the flowers.

The compact coneflower 'Little Annie' pairs well with the annuals as it won't crowd out the marigolds. Its bright pink blooms are a handsome accent with the orange and yellow marigold blooms. Echinacea is known to be deer resistant, so I planted it in an area that deer pass by. So far, it hasn't been bothered and neither have the marigolds. Although I created it by chance, this combination has become a favorite that I'll keep in season to come. I plan to enhance it next year with the addition of an ornamental grass as a backdrop.

Visitors have commented many times that the yard is like a colorful tapestry. How can I keep the garden in so many colorful blooms? It's not a garden secret; it just takes the gumption to try new things in unexpected places.

Your garden can stay colorful in all seasons with both annuals and perennial flowers. Consider short and long-blooming perennials. Use fast-growing annuals to fill in the bare spots. Your garden is a canvas waiting for you to create color and interest. Utilize some of those empty spaces and plant more flowers. Like me, you may be surprised -- and pleased -- with the outcome.

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