A winter bloom preview
When fall begins to make way for winter, what blooms can you expect to see in the garden? Even with the temperatures falling, you can always count on the Dallas Arboretum to have bright blooms and splendid colors on display.
We sat down with Dave Forehand, Dallas Arboretum’s Vice President of gardens, to find out what flowers, foliage and vegetables we’ll get a chance to enjoy this coming season.
Q: Are there any new winter flowers or plants we can expect?
A: Dinosaur kale is one that we haven’t planted widely before, and this year we have beds full of them. It’s a beautiful blue-green color and grows to about 3 feet tall. Though all our ornamental kale is edible, this one in particular has a long history of culinary use.
Q: What is your favorite winter bloom to see around the Arboretum?
A: A poll of our Horticulturists will give you quite a varied answer. Cardoon is definitely one of our favorites. This winter perennial comes up in early autumn, gives you spectacular silver foliage all winter and eventually grows quite large, blooming in late spring with a large purple thistle-like flower. We like our winter foliage since the landscape is otherwise relatively bare, though we do love the fact that pansies and violas come in such a wide variety of colors and flower sizes.
Q: What blooms can we expect to see this winter?
A: We started planting our early winter color at the beginning of November. Believe it or not, some of our flowerbeds don’t get planted with bulbs—only annuals—so we like to get those planted before we get started on our big winter transition. So far we have: pansies, violas, snapdragons, dianthus, kale, swiss chard, erysimum, foxglove, columbine, cardoon, mustard, dusty miller and salvia argentea in the garden.
Q: How long does it take to plant the winter blooms?
A: It takes us about two to three weeks to plant early winter color and change out all of our containers in November. After Thanksgiving, we deconstruct our Pumpkin Village and then get started with bulbs. Over the years, we have honed our bulb planting down from a month and a half to about 15 workdays, give or take some bad weather days. That means we plant about 500,000 bulbs and 120,000 winter annuals with about 40 staff members in a short amount of time. Needless to say, we are very organized and efficient.
Q: Are there any blooms that do well in both the fall and winter? If so what are they?
A: That’s a tricky question since you can start planting pansies pretty early in the fall. The trick is to get them in the ground once the really hot temperatures have subsided. Otherwise they can tend to get leggy, or overgrown, quickly. Our hot weather can hold on for a long time here and then turn really cold, really fast.