By early fall most summer annuals start to look suspicious so we remove them and clean up the beds. Now what? What do we do with bare beds all winter?
Don’t worry, there is an easy way to add some winter color to your planted beds. And it won’t blow up your budget. Consider using ornamental kale which adds nice, bright whites and purples to your beds. Brian Minter, writing in Tri-City News, (October 10, 2018 A24) reports that ornamental kales should be fine in winter unless it’s -10 degrees Celsius for long stretches.
It’s nice to plant ornamental kale with good companions. We used pansies but Dusty Millers are also good. Planting around evergreen Carex species is also good.
Brian Minter offers two key tips. One is to plant ornamental kales in groups so the bright colors really stand out. This is obvious. The other tip isn’t. Plant ornamental kale deep so they look like they are popping out of the ground. Since I read Minter’s article half-way through our winter planting, I adjusted my planting afterwards.
A third tip involves peeling off the bottom leaves that look brown or yellow before planting your kale. It cleans up the plant nicely.
Let’s look at some actual examples. First comes bed preparation. Remove all annuals and rake and cultivate your beds so they are clean. Cultivation fluffs up the soil and makes planting easier.
My directions were to plant kale and then alternate with yellow and blue pansy lines. At your house you can experiment and arrange everything to your liking.
This driveway corner looks much better now and hopefully the plants survive the winter. Remember to do your clean-up blow gently so you don’t blast out the plants.
This is another high-profile boulevard corner and it looks fine for now.
If you haven’t tried winter planting with ornamental kale and pansies, give it a go. You can also do your garden pots. It will add fresh colour to your garden just as the days get shorter, darker and colder. Group the ornamental kales and plant them deep. Then pray for a mild West Coast winter.