Let’s start with a nice smoked trout mousse….

The heat-loving summer flower pots are the main course. Early spring flower pots are the appetizers.  Although the summer pots will fill you up, and you will even get tired of them by the end of the meal, you just can’t wait – you’re hungry after a long winter. You want something now, to hold you over until the big plate arrives. It has to be something light, because your 10 oz filet mignon will be showing up soon. You certainly don’t need the appetizer – the steak will be plenty – but you JUST CAN’T WAIT.

Here are some pointers to help you with the appetizer menu.

Don’t feel compelled to fill up all your pots with early spring flowers – this is an appetizer after all. Take one or two or three pots, plant them, and put them in strategic locations. At least one should be in a place you walk by everyday.

Since they are impervious to cold spring temperatures, pansies, violas, and Johnny jump-ups are the main ingredients in spring pots. They often come in trays of mixed colors that, not coincidentally, look fantastic together.

Flower-pot annual flowers can take a beating when they move from the mild, windless greenhouse climate to a very windy spot outdoors, and the early spring flowers are no exception.

English ivy and some herbs mix well with pansies, and are tough enough to brave the cold. Feel free to add some pussy willow, curly willow, or dogwood stems.

Project: Deerfield, 2011

Diascia and nemesia aren’t as tough as pansies, so you should probably wait out the really cold temperatures before using them They are available early and flower like crazy in cooler temperatures. In my experience they fizzle out by July, but I’ve read that some newer varieties are more heat-tolerant.  Stocks (Matthiola) and snapdragons are also usually available early, and hold up well though the summer.

The reason you will need to re-plant your early spring pots is that most of the cold-tolerant flowers look pretty bad by mid-summer. They just can’t handle the heat and humidity.

Pansies, violas, and Johnny jump-ups are going to stay nice and low like were on the day you bought them. You won’t have to worry about them growing into gargantuan monsters, like some of the cute little four-inch-pot summer annuals will. On the other hand, you may end up with a pot that looks like Curly Howard’s head – with a short, flat top. Those pansies that look so nice and full in the garden center will look oddly flat when planted in a pot. You will need something in the center to give the planting some height – try a pot of forced daffodils. You will have to replace them a few times over the course of the spring.

Traditional summer pot flowers start showing up in home stores way before I would take a chance on them. It’s quite common to see a giant pile of freeze-killed annual flowers back by the dumpsters at the home improvement stores in late April and early May.

“Mr. Analogy” is what my kids mockingly called me once they were old enough to know what analogy meant. Kids grow up too fast. One day you are a god-like super-being. The next day you are Mr. Analogy.

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