Brighten Up Your Winter Garden with Pansies and Violas

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Brighten Up Your Winter GardenBrighten up your garden with pansies and viola

Perhaps you’re thinking, why bother with a winter garden when the weather is often dull and dreary and it is no pleasure to be out and about.

Well, a bright and colourful winter garden can help to cheer up the area around your home and provide a heartening welcome when you come home or look out through your window.

It’s not as difficult as it sounds to provide that splash of colour in the middle of winter, whether you have just a small patio or a massive garden. There are several plants that will bloom in winter, such as Dianthus or Gazanias, but probably the pick of the crop are the Pansies or Violas.

Pansies and Violas are related species – in fact Pansies are derived from Violas as hybrids. In general, Violas produce more flowers than Pansies, but the flowers are smaller, averaging around one inch across. The Pansy flowers, while less in number, make up for this by growing up to three inches across.

Both varieties prefer plenty of sunshine and good soil. Because the flowers generally face towards the sun, you will obtain the most benefits from their attractive colours by planting them so that you will look at them with the sun behind you, this way, the flowers will be turned towards you.

Pansies and Violas can be planted in borders or in hanging baskets and, if looked after carefully, will provide colour throughout the winter and even longer. The simplest method to get instant colour in your winter garden is to buy the plants from your local garden centre as bedding plants, most will have at least a few flowers open, so you can check the colour and get that brightness into your garden almost instantly.

When you plant your Pansies or Violas, bear these basic facts in mind: most Pansies and Violas prefer a well- drained soil, rich in compost, so take the time to dig over your garden bed before planting. If you have heavy, clay soil it is worth adding some river sand as you dig to break up the clay.

Take care as you remove the plants from the seed trays, don’t pull them out by the stem or leaves, rather, push the plant out from under the tray. Plant the Pansy or Viola to the same depth as it was in the seed tray and water thoroughly after planting and regularly for the first few days. Once the plants are established, they prefer deep watering but not so frequently, this encourages root growth and healthier plants.

Keep an eye out for snails and for those plants that may be sheltered by nearby shrubs or those planted in full sun, make sure they don’t dry out. You can encourage new flowers by trimming off old flowers with scissors or your thumb and forefinger when they are past their best.

What varieties are best? It depends on your own personal choice, but for Pansies, Morpho and Ultima Baron Red make striking contributions to your winter garden, while Tigers Eye, with masses of golden flowers, or Gorgeous Lemon Cuty, with bright yellow and maroon flowers, are both good choices for Violas.

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