Gardening is always a challenge when the heat is as intense as it it is here, but it is something I love and enjoy. Lantana is one of those plants that even a novice gardener can grow, because it absolutely thrives on sun and heat. It is also popular as a water-wise plant, perfect for a fairly new type of landscaping design, known as a "xeriscaping," that focuses on plants needing very little moisture to grow.
The fact that butterflies are attracted to lantana's proliferant blooms has made our yard a daily stopover during the past few months for beautiful butterflies of all colors and sizes. Some of these beauties have included the spectacular monarch butterflies, passing through on their winged migration to parts further south. Now that fall is actually here, and our days and nights are somewhat cooler, with daytime highs hovering around eighty degrees, it is time to replace the heat-loving lantana with pansies.
Pansies are the perfect winter flower for this part of the country. These delicate plants will bloom from now until May, if they are in planted in part shade, and they will even perk up their seemingly fragile and frozen blooms after a hard freeze, an ice storm, or a fairly heavy snow like the one we had last March. Unlike lantana, with only a few colors from which to choose, pansies come in a rainbow of hues, some with "faces," the dark spot in the center, and some without. This year, we chose a mix of indigo, white with purple faces, and cornflower blue, and we look forward to enjoying these lovely flower throughout the winter and into the spring.