Sarasota News Leader

12/20/2013

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FESTIVE FLORAL ADORNMENT The geranium has proven itself a hearty plant. Photo by Rick Wielgorecki BEING IN FLORIDA FOR THE HOLIDAYS MEANS A VAST ARRAY OF NATURAL DECORATING OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE By Rick Wielgorecki Contributing Writer This festive time of year brings out the desire in all of us to decorate. Though red and green dominate, all the colors of the spectrum are evident in the holiday environment. And while those living in wintery northern climes are limited to chiaroscuro landscapes composed of whites, blacks and grays, those of us in Florida can celebrate by decorating our landscapes with wonderful winter annuals! Thankfully, there are many alternatives to the impatiens. After a close look, it appears that the geranium has ascended the throne as the preferred choice for winter color in our neck of the woods (see Plant of the Month below). There is a host of other flowers that can thrive in the cool and dry winter weather. Most are available in a variety of colors to suit any gardener's holiday color scheme. Some of the Only a few years ago, the undisputed kings ones I have enjoyed over the years follow: of cool season annuals were the impatiens. • Petunias defy cold spells and run nicely With heavy blooming and a host of chromatic along the ground or cascade from hanging choices, they provided a blast of color second baskets. to none. But powdery mildew fungus devastated homeowners and nurserymen alike, • Snapdragons include some varieties that can attain 30 inches in height and attract reducing their cultivars to so much shriveled butterflies and hummingbirds. tissue in the winter of 2011.

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