Something I think many gardeners in NW Florida do not take advantage of is our ability to garden in the winter.  Several of my favorite flowers are cool season annuals.  My neighborhood has a “yard of the month” program and it ends in November.  I was very surprised to hear of this and blurted out, “Well in my garden there is still plenty going on during those months.”  We are fortunate to plant things that grow in the spring up North, but do well in our climate in the winter. 

It seems to me the reason this feast of color is not enjoyed by more is due to the banishment of annuals in residential gardens.  I’ve heard it over and over through the years, “Oh, it’s an annual, no thanks.  I only plant perennials.”  In fact I may offend some of my garden friends by saying that I think that they are missing out. 

The reasons for giving annuals the boot is usually to do with money.  They feel like they spend so much money on the plants and they only last one season.  Also, I have heard complaints of not wanting the hassle of planting.  For this several gardeners have made annuals outcasts.

I still plant annuals every season without fail.  However, I save a great deal of money by buying seeds.  Most all annuals germinate easily and grow very quickly.  It’s also a delight to watch them grow from tiny seedlings to mature plants.  Also, in every garden there should be a balance of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees.  Many people make the mistake by planting nothing but annuals in their gardens because they have color for long periods of time.  Cottage gardening is all about learning how to retain color all year by understanding when certain plants bloom and plugging in with annuals.  Lastly, everyone should make time to dig in the dirt at the beginning of every season.  I would go crazy if I didn’t have something new to plant.  That is the joy of gardening! 

So what should you plant in the fall to keep you colorful all winter long?  Snapdragons are always welcome in my garden.

Of course Pansies with their sweet faces should be included.  These flowers can withstand the coldest temperatures. 

Sweet smelling alyssum can usually be found cascading out of a pot or used as edging. 

Pansy’s smaller cousin Johnny Jump Up can be found peeking its little face up from the ground. 

A lesser known flower that has amazing scent in pretty pastels is Nemesia. 

This next flower is what I think of as our winter Marigold called Calendula. 

I most certainly could not forget the flower that can be thrown in with your salad…Nasturtiums. 

How could anyone want to miss out on all of these astounding winter annuals?  Take this beautiful time of year as an opportunity to get out in the garden and plant these beauties.  Welcome them back into your garden and relieve them of their long banishment.