Foliage vs Flowers: Winter
A couple of times a year I replant the largest of my pots, which then sit in prominent positions, mostly doing a remarkable job of distracting from the fact that there’s nowhere near enough in flower in the garden itself. In summer, when I don’t have enough water for vegies (mine is a winter vegie garden only – much the easiest way to go about it, but that’s another subject), these pots brimming with seasonal contents totally eclipse the dreariness of empty vegie beds. It’s miraculous.
What I’ve learned, through pain and suffering, is that in my winter pots, coloured foliage is a whole lot more effective than flowers. This is slightly depressing, as there’s no escaping the fact that foliage, no matter how extravagantly coloured, lacks the heart-breaking, fragile beauty of flowers. But fragile is the key word. No flowers are made to put up with the cycle of freezing, thawing, drenching, waterlogging and wind-drying that my climate dishes up in winter.
Of course all flowers are beaten around, in any climate. But my current belief (self-generated, and with no way of my truly testing it out) is that the particular challenge of winter is that flowers just can’t replace themselves fast enough.
The growth rate of the flowering plant, and of the flowers themselves, is just too slow to cover for the constant loss of flowers due to batterings and bruisings.
Foliage is the answer. And in winter that’s limited. I had to grow the ornamental kale plants in these photos from seed. Not only are seedlings irregularly and unreliably available, they hit the market too late in the season to bulk up before it gets too cold here. I germinated these in early February. The nursery didn’t get any seedlings in until about April.
I can’t say that I absolutely love ornamental kale plants, but by golly I’m grateful for them.