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April garden checklist

Indoors

  • Prune, repot and clean houseplants as needed.houseplant-window-stockxpertcom_id848849_size2
  • Fertilize houseplants as new growth appears. Follow label directions.
  • If not done already, sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
  • Order seeds and plants as early as soon as possible.Cyclamen. (C) iStockphoto
    Cyclamen. (C) iStockphoto
  • Place Easter lily, florist azalea, cyclamen and other seasonal flowering plants in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep soil moist.
  • Pot up summer flowering bulbs to be transplanted outdoors later, including tuberous begonias, caladiums and cannas.
  • Start seeds of warm-season plants, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, marigolds, zinnias and petunias for planting outdoors in mid-May.

General Landscape

  • Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins.
  • Complete pruning to remove dead and injured branches from trees and shrubs. Prune spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia or lilacs, within a month after blooming.
  • Mow grass as needed to 3 1/2- to 4-inches tall.
  • Remove winter-damaged ground covers with trimmers or shears.
  • Divide or transplant hardy perennials.
  • Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to ripen and yellow or brown before cutting back. Leaves make the food reserves stored in the bulbs that bring next year’s flowers. Divide or transplant spring-flowering bulbs after they’ve finished blooming. Mark empty spaces in the landscape to show where to plant spring-flowering bulbs next fall.
  • Harden off transplants started indoors earlier by gradually exposing young plants to outdoor conditions of wind, sunlight and lower moisture.
  • Remove winter covering from roses. Keep mulch nearby to use on plants in case of late freezes. Prune and fertilize as needed.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Sow seeds for cool-season crops, including peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and Swiss chard, directly in the garden as soon as soil can be worked. Soil should crumble instead of forming a ball when squeezed.

    Mesclun seedlings can be transplanted outdoors anytime or the seeds can be sown directly in the garden. Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau

    Mesclun seedlings can be transplanted outdoors anytime or the seeds can be sown directly in the garden. Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau

  • Plant seedlings of cool-season crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and onions.
  • Plant asparagus and rhubarb crowns. (Do not harvest until three years after planting.)
  • Plant certified, disease-free potato sections or seed tubers.
  • Plant strawberries, raspberries and other small fruit.
  • Remove winter mulch from strawberries, but keep it handy in case late frosts threaten and to keep weeds down.
  • Prune grape vines to remove dead or weakened limbs. Repair trellises as needed.
  • Apply a pre-bloom, multipurpose orchard spray to fruit trees.

 

Guiltless way to enjoy potted hydrangea, azalea

Potted hydrangeas are forced into bloom and best appreciated as a short-term spring plant in a pot. © Marina Lohrbach/123rf.com

Potted hydrangeas are forced into bloom and best appreciated as a short-term spring plant in a pot. © Marina Lohrbach/123rf.com

This time of year, potted hydrangea and azalea are popular gifts. Unintentionally, these gifts come with guilt. That’s because a lot of recipients don’t know what to do with these plants and people feel compelled to keep them alive forever.

Allow me to assuage you guilt.

These plants are grown in a greenhouse and forced into bloom for the season. Think of them as a short-lived commodity, like a bouquet of flowers. You would not think about planting the bouquet outdoors. You’d just enjoy it while the flowers looked good, then tossed them in the compost pile (or trash) when they faded.

Florist hydrangea

The potted hydrangea, with its big mophead flowers, is commonly called a florist hydrangea or hortensia (H. macrophylla var. macrophylla). Plant it in a pot by itself or with cool-season annuals, such as pansies or violas. Place the pot on a step or in a flowerbed for the spring season. The blooms may be damaged by long periods of below freezing temperatures. Full sun may speed up the aging of the blooms. Keep the soil moist, but not sopping wet.

Even though it is rated as winter hardy, it suffers the same fate as many other big leaf (macrophylla) hydrangeas in Indiana. The flower buds frequently are killed by spring temperatures, resulting in a lovely green-leafed shrub with no blooms. I’m not saying these can’t be wintered over, but it’s a lot of worry and as an unreliable bloomer, not worthy of space in my garden.

Enjoy the frost tender, potted azalea as a houseplant. © Robert Byron/123rf.com

Enjoy the frost tender, potted azalea as a houseplant. © Robert Byron/123rf.com

Potted azalea

The potted azalea (Rhododendron simsii) is a tender relative of the azaleas and rhododendrons we grow in our gardens. It is bred for its large, long lasting flowers, which may be lavender, peach, pink, red or white. Some are bicolor. Potted azaleas can be found at other times during the year, such as Mother’s Day.

Place the potted azalea in an area with bright light and cool temperatures, and it will bloom for about a month. The soil should be moist, but not wet. If you’re up to the challenge of getting it to rebloom, this azalea needs about 60 days of temperatures in the 40-55 degree range in winter for it to set flower buds.

You might be able to get more information if the plant came with a tag that gave the cultivar name. However, most people enjoy this as a short-term houseplant. It can be moved to a sunny spot outdoors where its glossy, dark green leaves will look nice in a pot with summer annuals, then tossed at the end of the season.

Use caution with Easter lilies if you have cats

Lilies of all types are poisonous to cats, including the beautiful white Eastern lilies we got for the holiday.

Eating just one or two flower petals or leaves can trigger kidney failure and frequently death in cats within a few days. Cats also can be poisoned if they lick pollen-laden paws. If you think your cat has ingested any part of a lily (Lilium), contact your veterinarian immediately.

Beside Easter lily, the family includes tiger lily, rubrum, Asian, Oriental, Martagon and species. Although a different species, daylilies (Hemerocallis) also are poisonous to cats. Calla lilies (Zantedeschia) are not.

City Gardener Program

If you’ve just moved into your first house with a yard and you are unsure of what to do with the lawn, trees and, oh, you might like to have a vegetable or flower garden, then the City Gardener Program is for you.

The Purdue Extension-Marion County City Gardener Program was developed in 2002 for new or inexperienced gardeners. It covers a variety of gardening topics and has a focus on gardening in urban areas.

The 2012 program, which began April 11, offers six Wednesday classes, and you can attend as many as you like. A certificate is awarded to those who attend all six.

Here’s the schedule and topics for the remaining sessions: April 18, Vegetable Gardening Basics; April 25, Pests and Pest Management; May 2, Growing Flowers; May 16, Grass Selection; and May 23, Tree and Shrub Planting. April 11 covered How Plants Grow.

Each class will be 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. at the Marion County Extension office, Discovery Hall, Suite 201, Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1201 E. 38th Street. The fee is $5 per session or $20 for the six classes. You do not have to pay to park to attend these classes.

For more information or to register, visit the Website or contact Debbie Schelske, dschelsk@purdue.edu, (317) 275-9286.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Botanic Garden evaluates lady and Japanese painted ferns

‘Branford Beauty’ fern earned five stars for its performance during plant trials at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

‘Branford Beauty’ fern earned five stars for its performance during plant trials at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

The Chicago Botanic Garden has released its six-year evaluation of lady ferns and Japanese painted fern (Athyrium spp.). This group of ferns is among the most elegant, yet utilitarian plants for the shade garden, said Richard Hawke, who heads up the evaluation program at the Glencoe, Illinois, botanic garden.

Victoriae lady fern. Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden/mobot.org

Victoriae lady fern earned five starts in the CBG evaluations. Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden/mobot.org

Two of my Japanese painted ferns, ‘Branford Beauty’ and ‘Pewter Lace’, were among 13 to receive five stars. ‘Branford Beauty’ is a clump grower and ‘Pewter Lace’ (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) is a spreader. Among native lady ferns, (A. felix-femina), the sometimes hard-to-find ‘Victoriae’ earned five stars.

If you’ve grown these ferns, you know they are not always the most vigorous, especially when it gets hot and especially dry. It’s not uncommon for them to go dormant during hot, dry spells, frequently reviving in late summer and fall as weather moderates. The botanic garden saw first hand how these ferns handle less than desirable conditions with the loss of a huge shade tree that left the bed in sweltering afternoon sun.

Among other challenges, browsing by rabbits, and fence eventually was built around the test plot to keep out the critters.

The ferny, lance-shaped fronds are perfect companions to the bolder and broader leaves of other shade-loving plants, such as hosta, lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) and coral bells (Heuchera spp.). I love the way the way Japanese painted ferns look with silvery-purple coral bells. “Crown injury or plant losses in winter were uncommon and infrequent occurrences during the trial,” Hawke wrote in his evaluation.

The purple-veined Japanese painted fern is a good companion with silvery-purple coral bells. This combination also camouflages the ripening foliage of grape hyacinths and other spring bulbs. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The purple-veined Japanese painted fern is a good companion with silvery-purple coral bells. This combination also camouflages the ripening foliage of grape hyacinths and other spring bulbs. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Branford Beauty’ is between a lady fern and a Japanese painted fern in its form and habit. “The upright habit and fine-textured leaves of this hybrid resemble the lady fern, while the colorful arching and curved fronds are like Japanese painted fern,” he wrote. ‘Branford Beauty’ also was more uniformly silver green.

The fronds of ‘Pewter Lace’ “emerged purple, but aged silver-green with purple highlights on the lower portion of the pinnae along the purple rachis. The irregularly arched fronds and mounded habit were comparable to other cultivars. No rabbit damage, drought stress, or scorch was observed during the trial,” Hawke wrote in the report.

Hawke said gardeners and landscapers appreciate athyrium’s feathery textures and fronds of many colors, which contrast and complement other perennials. Grow them in moist, well-drained soil in full to part shade. Water during dry spells.

Herb society celebrates year of peppers

Pretty N Sweet peppers, a 2015 All-America Selection. Photo courtesy All-AmericaSelections.org

Pretty N Sweet peppers, a 2015 All-America Selection. Photo courtesy All-AmericaSelections.org

The International Herb Association has declared this the year of the pepper and the Herb Society of Central Indiana decided to celebrate.

Peppers were featured at the group’s meeting earlier this month and again, April xx at the annual conference. It also will be planted in the herb garden at White River Gardeners, where members have been volunteering since 2001, said Sue Arnold, a founding member of the Herb Society of Central Indiana.

Peppers (Capsicum annuum) also will be growing in Arnold’s garden in Brownsburg. “I have a history of growing lots of hot peppers and I competed in the Chili Cookoff for years. I have a trophy in the basement from winning the most popular people’s choice chili,” said Arnold.

This year, she’s started seeds for Pretty N Sweet hybrid, a 2015 All-America Selections winner that I grew last year. It can be grown in the ground or in a container.

This was probably the easiest pepper I’ve ever grown, very prolific and very ornamental, something AAS calls “ornamedible.” The conical-shaped, tasty peppers are red, yellow, orange and greenish, 1-1 ½ inches long. A plant will have about 100 sweet peppers, each weighing an ounce.

Pretty N Sweet was also was a favorite at the AAS Demonstration Garden maintained by Marion County Master Gardener at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, said Steve Mayer, horticulture educator at Purdue-Marion County Extension.

“I also have six other varieties of peppers seeds to plant. I’ll try to protect from the deer,” Arnold said.

Grow peppers in full sun. Don’t rush to plant them outdoors because peppers like warm soil and warm ambient temperatures. Also, practice patience. Peppers need a long, hot, period for fruit to mature for harvesting. For Pretty N Sweet, you can start picking about 60 days after planting transplants.

The Herb Society of Central Indiana’s 2016 spring symposium, Pepper Your Life with Herbs, will be 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., April 9, at the Hamilton County 4H Fairgrounds, Noblesville. The public is invited.

Indiana Flower & Patio Show

This weekend begins the eight-day run of the 58th annual Indiana Flower & Patio Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This year, the theme is Tall, Dark and Awesome. The show ends March 20.

Wright heads up horticulture and natural resources at the IMA

Jonathan Wright has been named the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director for Horticulture and Nature Resources at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo courtesy IMA

Jonathan Wright has been named the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director for Horticulture and Nature Resources at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo courtesy IMA

The opportunity to work at a world-class art museum committed to making its gardens a priority lured Jonathan Wright from the country’s gardening mecca to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Wright was named the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director for Horticulture and Nature Resources at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, succeeding Mark Zelonis, who retired last December after 18 years. He started the first week of March.

The IMA is somewhat unique in the world of horticulture because of its mix of properties. Wright was particularly attracted to the diversity of gardens: the Olmsted-designed Oldfields; the IMA’s gardens and grounds; 100 Acres, the Art and Nature Park; and the Kiley-designed Miller House and Garden in Columbus. Wright comes to the IMA from Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where he was a horticulturist for 12 years.

“I wasn’t looking for a job when I got the call,” Wright said in a phone interview shortly after he moved to Indianapolis. “But it was so exciting. There’s an Olmsted landscape, Kiley and 100 Acres (designed by Marlon Blackwell and Edward L Blake). That was really exciting to me to be a part of all these different styles of gardens. We’re going to take them to the next level.”

The mid-century modern Miller House and Garden in Columbus and Oldfields, an American County Estate, are on designated National Historic Landmarks. He said he didn’t know of any other museum with the rich diversity of historically significant landscapes.

A graduate of Temple University, the Longwood Gardens’ Professional Gardener Program, and the Getty Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Program, Wright has extensive experience at gardens throughout the United States and England.

“I feel Jonathan Wright has the vision, knowledge and creativity to provide strategic direction and leadership to establish the IMA as one of the preeminent public garden and urban ecosystem destinations in the country,” said Charles Venable, the Melvin and Bren Simon Director and Chief Executive Officer at the IMA, in a press release.

“Most of Jonathan Wright’s work experience and training have been in former private gardens now open to the public,” said Bill Thomas, executive director and head gardener at Chanticleer. “Jonathan has a great eye for design and a sensitivity to the individual site, both of which he has developed well here at Chanticleer. I expect to see great things from him and the talented staff of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.”

March garden checklist

Soil readiness.

Indoors

  • Prune, repot and clean houseplants as needed.
  • Fertilize houseplants as new growth appears. Follow label directions.
  • Sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement, number of plants needed and sequence.
  • Order seeds and plants as early as possible for best selection.
  • Place Easter lily, florist azalea, cyclamen and other seasonal flowering plants in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep soil moist.
  • Pot up summer flowering bulbs to be transplanted outdoors later, including tuberous begonias, caladiums and cannas.
  • Start seeds of warm season vegetables and flowers in early March in southern Indiana. In northern and central Indiana, wait until late March or early April. Transplant outdoors when danger of frost is past, usually mid-May.

General Landscape

  • Warm spring days tempt us into the garden to prepare the soil and begin planting. However, do not work the soil if it is wet. If soil is worked too early, its structure is damaged. Here’s an easy test: Take a handful of soil.  If it crumbles in your hand, the soil is ready to work. If it forms a ball, the soil is too wet.
  • Prepare tools for their summer job. Sharpen mower blades.

    Prepare lawn and garden equipment for upcoming growing season. Sharpen blades and have equipment serviced as early as possible.

  • Prune trees and shrubs except those that bloom early in spring.
  • Plant container grown and balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs as soon as the soil dries enough to be worked. Plant bare-root plants before they leaf out.
  • Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins but after soil temperatures have reached 40 degrees, usually early March in southern Indiana and late March in the north.
  • Apply horticulture oil spray, if needed, to control scale insects and mites when tips of leaves start to protrude from buds.
  • Avoid walking on soft ground. Walking on soil compacts it.
  • Seed bare spots in lawn.
  • Apply corn gluten, a natural pre-emergent herbicide, when grass starts active growth in southern Indiana only. Wait until April in the north . Corn gluten keeps weed seeds from sprouting but does not kill existing plants. For more info: University of Minnesota’s Corn Gluten Meal: A Natural Pre-Emergence Herbicide.
  • Remove leaves, twigs and trash from yard.
  • Set lawn mower to cut at 3 ½ to 4-inches high.
  • Cut to the ground perennials that were left standing for winter interest. Divide and transplant perennials when soil can be worked.
  • Cut ornamental grasses as close to the ground as possible. Transplant or divide ornamental grasses.
  • Remove winter covering from roses as soon as new growth begins. Prune and fertilize as needed.
  • Sow seed or plant seedlings of cool-season and half-hardy annuals, including calendula, larkspur, poppy, snapdragons, English daisy, pansies and sunflowers.
  • Harden off transplants by setting them outdoors during the day for about a week before planting.
  • Follow last fall’s soil test recommendations for fertilizer and pH; soil also can be tested this spring.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Plant seedlings of cool season vegetables and flowers as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. These include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, lettuces, radishes and beets. For more details on specific vegetables and planting dates, see Purdue University’s Home Gardener’s Guide.
  • Remove old asparagus and rhubarb tops; side dress with nitrogen or manure.
  • Plant or transplant asparagus, rhubarb and small fruit plants.
  • Remove winter mulch from strawberry beds as soon as new growth begins; keep mulch nearby to protect against frost and freezes.
  • Before new growth begins on raspberry plants, remove canes that fruited last year and any that are weak, diseased or damaged.
  • Prune grape vines to remove dead or weakened limbs. Repair trellises as needed.

 

 

 

IMA’s first plant exhibit features orchids

Color Me Orchid exhibit runs through March 13 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art

Color Me Orchid exhibit runs through March 13 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Orchid Exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is as rich with history as it is with blooms.

As far as I’m able to tell, it’s the first formal exhibit of a plant at the IMA. (Of course, the gardens and grounds exhibit plants year-round.) And, an exhibit of orchids is an homage, or sorts, to the late IMA benefactor, Madeline F. Elder, for whom the greenhouse is named.

There are two places for the Color Me Orchid exhibit, which runs through March 13. The Pop-Up Shop is in the Bret Waller Gallery in the main building. An exhibit of more exotic and collector orchids is at the greenhouse.

“The Pop-Up Shop exhibit is laid out like a sculpture gallery,” said Sue Nord Peiffer, greenhouse manager and curator of the exhibit. Gorgeously displayed in gallery lighting, individual plants sit on pedestals, shelves, nooks and crannies like you’d find in a sculpture exhibit.

All of the plants in the Pop-Up Shop are for sale. They came from growers as close as Indiana and as far away as Hawaii, Peiffer said. The orchids at the shop will change regularly as new plants begin to bloom. The greenhouse’s living gallery exhibit reflects the orchids’ visual and scented appeal.

Orchids are on exhibit in the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse and in the Pop-Up Shop in the main museum building Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art

Orchids are on exhibit in the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse and in the Pop-Up Shop in the main museum building Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art

Elder is credited with leading the effort to save the greenhouse from demolition in 1972. “She rallied volunteers, repainted the greenhouse and donated some of her own plants,” Peiffer said. Elder, who died at age 103 in 1992, also provided financial support and eventually endowed the greenhouse. The legacy also continues with the IMA’s Horticultural Society, which was founded by some of Elder’s volunteers.

One orchid in the special exhibit at the greenhouse is from Elder’s collection. Elder was known nationally as an avid collector of orchids and African violets, Peiffer said. Coincidentally, while doing research, Peiffer learned another connection to the greenhouse was also a collector of orchids. J.K. Lilly Sr., the father of J.K. Lilly Jr., who lived at Oldfields and owned the greenhouse, had a large orchid collection at his Carmel, Indiana home, she said. The Lilly family donated the 52 acres at Michigan Road and 38th Street to be an art museum.

Color Me Orchid is free for members. Regular admission applies for nonmembers. Admission is free 4 to 9 p.m., March 3, the first Thursday of the month. Class on repotting orchids will be Feb. 27 and March 5.  Author Douglas Allen will talk about “Success with Orchids in Your Home,” 2 p.m., March 6 at The Toby. His talk is free.

An epic guide to growing tomatoes

Cherokee Purple Tomato. Photo courtesy Bonnie Plants

Cherokee Purple Tomato. Photo courtesy Bonnie Plants

For the last few week, gardener have been thinking about the upcoming planting season. And when it comes to growing our own, tomatoes top the list. To help us succeed comes Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes: How to Select & Grow the Best Varieties of All Time (Storey Publishing, $19.95). LeHoullier, the tomato advisor for Seed Savers Exchange, has trialed more than 1,200 tomato varieties through his 35 years of gardening.

I immediately checked out my favorite, Cherokee Purple, an heirloom that tastes like what we think a tomato should taste like, truly bursting with flavor. “Cherokee Purple exploded in our mouths in a symphony of flavors and nuances,” wrote LeHoullier of his and his wife, Sue’s first taste.

epic tomato coverThen, I looked up Brandywine, the tomato that aroused our interest in heirlooms. Some years, production is great and some years, not so much. “It is still Brandywine that I think of when I ponder the perfect tomato-eating experience. An authentic Brandywine has an unmatched succulent texture that melts in your mouth. The flavor enlivens the taste buds, with all the favorable components of the best tomatoes – tartness, sweetness, fullness and complexity – in perfect balance,” he wrote.

Is your mouth watering? Fortunately, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and many other heirlooms are available at local garden center. If you haven’t ever tried one, do so this year.

The book makes suggestions for handling common tomato disease and insect problems and gives tips on planting, harvesting and preserving, along with recommendations on 250 varieties. Although most of the book is dedicated to heirlooms, there are several comparison charts that include well known hybrids, such as Better Boy. LeHoullier lists prized tomato varieties by their color, such as green, striped or black.

If planning to start your tomatoes from seed indoors, follow the packet instructions. Usually the indoor seed-starting process tomato starts about six weeks before transplanting outdoors, which is mid May. Tomatoes are very sensitive to cold air and soil temperatures, so don’t rush their outdoor planting.

Grow tomatoes where they will get at least six hours of direct sun. Eight hours is even better. Tomatoes can be grown in the ground in well-drained soil or in a container. If growing in a pot, select a dwarf type, such as Patio, or a determinate variety, such as Celebrity. Determinates reach a certain height then stop growing. Indeterminate varieties grow until they are killed by frost. Plan on staking most tomato varieties.

Celebrate a bicentennial garden with blue and gold flowers

Yellow daffodils and blue pansies celebrate Indiana's bicentennial. © Jahina_photos/dollarphotoclub.com

Yellow daffodils and blue pansies celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial. © Jahina_photos/dollarphotoclub.com

Indiana celebrates its bicentennial this year and you can commemorate the 200th birthday by planting blue and gold flowers, the colors of our state’s flag.

The Indiana Bicentennial Commission and the Garden Club of Indiana have partnered to promote the effort, especially in public spaces, but also in our landscapes and ornamental containers. Neighborhoods, condos, apartment complexes, cities and towns could deck their entryways with blue and yellow plants. Businesses can plant lovely blue and gold, flowerpots by their doors or in window boxes on the building.

It’s easy to get these hues in spring, because readily available pansies and violas come in blues and golds. Other spring options: gold or yellow ranunculus, snapdragons or forced daffodils with blue pansies or violas. Under plant some yellow or gold daffodils or tulips in the landscape with blue violas, or place a pot of blue pansies nearby.

Summer is even easier, although as Purdue University horticulturist Rosie Lerner says, “Some blue flowers are more purple than blue, and likewise, some gold flowers are more yellow.”

Some of my favorites for summer: Any of the annual blue salvias, such as ‘Victoria Blue’, ‘Black and Blue’, or ‘Mystic Spires’. Mix these with yellow or gold marigold, zinnia, calibrachoa or moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora). The salvias also would go well with an annual black-eyed Susan, or gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta), or the perennial (R. fulgida). There’s a golden yellow annual tickseed called plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) and perennial types (C. lanceolata or C. verticillata), including ‘Jethro Tull’, ‘Early Sunrise’, ‘Zagreb’ or ‘Moonbeam’.

For fall, reuse the blue salvias with some crisp, yellow mums. Pansies and snapdragons also hang tough in fall, and you’ll find timely, fresh crops of these in garden centers.

Winter, of course, is a challenge, but not without hope. Hang onto the cool-season pansies and put them in a pot around a small boxwood or dwarf Alberta spruce. This combo will work well in an all-weather container in an exposed location, or a ceramic or terra cotta pot in a protected area.

Just one pot with the flag’s colors is enough to cheer happy 200th birthday, Indiana. For more suggestions of blue and gold flowers, please download Lerner’s list, or one from the Garden Club of Indiana.