It's a Lowcountry gardener's dilemma. Our garden centers are chock-full of colorful plants saying, "Buy me; take me home." We want to. We know the perfect spot to plant beautiful you.
But wait, this is not New Jersey, where we buy our summer plants in the middle of May. Here, we have spring and summer plants. There are those that, if they're planted now, will not make it through to August. There are others that will grow large and just as beautiful in November. Which are which?
There is help at the garden center to guide you. Ask questions. If there's a particular plant you've read about or seen somewhere, and you don't see it at the center, ask if they can get it.
There are many new varieties of old favorites being introduced this spring. Let's start with Coreopsis. Before you think "Ho-hum," you need to see the new variety, Bengal Tiger, that's got rust-red and yellow flowers 2 inches across. Or, try a coneflower that's a luscious orange, such as the cantaloupe variety of Echinacea purpurea supreme. These two should bloom from late spring to mid-summer.
A plant that doesn't quit until frost -- and who knows when that will be? -- is Coleus. I'm loving the new variety, Mighty Mosaic. It's a strong grower, has mottled shades of chartreuse and burgundy and, good news, it does not set flowers until late fall.
Superbells are beyond hot. They're very popular. The pomegranate punch variety is new; it has velvety, deep red blossoms. Like all Calibrachoa annuals, this popular plant may not last through summer. I grow them where they get only full morning sun, and keep them on the damp side.
While at the garden centers, I'll be looking for silvery-white Dusty Miller. It glows next to purple and pink flowering plants. There's also sparkle white gaura, which is a great vertical accent in containers, and a new variety of hydrangea called strawberry sundae. This Hydrangea paniculata is a compact shrub that puts on a show of white, red and pink flowers well into fall.
And one more thought: There are many reasons to grow native plants, but after the weather we've had, the best reason might be that not one native species in my yard was touched by our winter freezes. No, they did their business in the fall, when they set their seed to make new plants. Then they retired for a long winter's nap. All are presently reappearing right on schedule.
LET PERSONALITY BE YOUR GUIDE
If you gravitate toward red flowers, it probably means you're an extrovert and impossible to ignore. You are enthusiastic and prone to impulsive moods and actions.
Many people say blue is their favorite color. This indicates introspection, sensitivity and conservatism. You tend to weigh options carefully and are cautious about taking action.
If you love yellow flowers, you have great imagination and a tremendous drive for self-fulfillment. Intellectuals and idealists often choose yellow. You make a good confidant and a true friend.
A love of pink indicates wealth and a good position in society. You are usually full of charm and warmth, and are pampered, loved and cared for.
Few people choose white when asked to name their favorite color. Those who do generally enjoy a simple life. This pure color also indicates innocence.
Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.