Counter late frost with rainbow of flowers

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:27 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My gorgeous spring ladies, the bleeding hearts are a sad sight right now.

In their frozen and wilted state, they are not the usual harbingers of spring in my backyard. My largest plant is a large mass of rotten vegetation.

The late frost here was painful. It cut short the blooms on the crabapple trees, also. What is Missouri without blooming crabapples in the spring? Thank goodness I was not in my usual hurry to plant my pots.

While waiting for friendlier weather, I have been looking over the proven winners that will be a must for container potting in a few weeks. If I don’t go to the garden center with a plan, I end up overwhelmed, and my brain gets color-jammed. I can’t even remember how many pots I have to plant. I end up grabbing one of just about everything. I get home, broke, mentally bloated with color and shocked at my vast selections, thinking, “What am I going to do with these plants?”

If you want a little guidance, here’s what I’ll be planting this year.

It is hard to beat lime green for popping in a planted container and showing off the colors of the companion plantings. If you love chartreuse as an accent, look for these plants in our local nurseries and garden centers.

“Angelina” sedum has wispy fern-like stems that crawl down the pot and through the other plantings in a lime-green glory.

I have to have a few “Goldilocks” lysimachia every year. They are hardy and look good all summer with small chartreuse leaves draping down through the other plantings. Lysimachia acts as a spotlight for any plant next to it.

“Gold Mount” duranta is a bit larger, but its smooth bilateral leaves absolutely glow. They are lime with a thin rim of darker green at the margins. They will stop you in your tracks.

“Lemon Licorice” helichrysum is the least bright of the limes. Its tones are more buttery and soft, but its accents go well against darker plants. It is a soothing yellow.

The lime green “Margarita” ipomoea (you may know it as the sweet potato vine) can’t be beat for voracity and robust growth. The lovely heart-shaped leaves make it a focal point in a container. It can hold its own with any plant.

My favorite blues this year are the “Leadwort” ceratostigma and “Laguna Sky Blue” lobelia. Both are true, vibrant blues with delicate flowers and dainty drapes. They look stunning with the sedum and lysimachia listed above.

Two of my favorite white annuals are the “Karalee White” gaura and the “Angelface White” angelonia. Both seem to float on dainty stalkswhile nodding a little dance above their companions. If you like pink, the “Karalee Petite Pink” guara looks just like happiness. I think if I look fast enough I’ll see that the flowers really are dancing fairies. Just looking at guaras makes me feel 10 years younger.

I probably won’t get out of the garden center without some coleus. It is not just for shade anymore. Some of the new varieties tolerate much more sun. The colors will knock your dirty garden socks off. I’m looking for the “Pineapple” coleus this year. It has a slight pinkish-peach color with green dappling. It looks good enough to eat.

Happy container shopping.

Tammy Bush has been a Master Gardener for four years. She was a pediatric nurse and educator, but now works from home as chauffeur to her two teenage sons. Two cats and a husband round out her life. When she isn’t driving, she runs a quilting business, putters in her gardens and likes do-it-yourself yard and home projects. Shade gardening, recycling and Japanese gardens are a few of her favorite things. She can be reached at

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