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Five full months of garden exuberance.

Wanda Morken shows how she does it--by rotating pots of annuals and perennials

Terraces and patios surrounding Wanda and Don Morken's house burst with exuberant bloom in spring and summer. Blooming annuals and perennials in plastic pots fill some 135 terra cotta pots so they can be switched instantly if needed. To create this changing color show, Mrs. Morken follows a carefully worked-out schedule (see calendar on opposite page), starting and tending plants out of sight in a garage or storage room, then moving them out before they reach peak bloom. She limits herself to just a few kinds of flowers, her proven performers: tuberous begonias, both hanging and upright; tree fuchsias and hanging baskets of fuchsias; impatiens (she crowds six dozen into one 24-inch-wide clay bowl); and geraniums (but only pelargoniums and those with variegated green and white foliage). Her supporting cast may include big pots of hostas (she rarely mixes varieties in a container), calla lilies, and zinnias. Each variety makes its own bold statement. Every year she tries something new, and takes notes on her most satisfying plant combinations. Mrs. Morken uses color fearlessly--pink, red, and purple pelargoniums in a single pot have the zest of a Mexican fiesta. In warmest weather, tuberous begonias and fuchsias require daily watering. If you live in water-short areas, stick to plants--such as geraniums, zinnias, and in shade, impatiens--that can thrive without watering every day; mulch soil surface with fine bark or gravel. Also, limit plantings to a few pots you can cluster where they can be seen and enjoyed most--by entries or on decks. To feed all plants, Mrs. Morken alternates fish emulsion with 20-20-20 on the day following weekly watering. Plants are dead-headed and groomed routinely. The mechanics of these floral displays are always carefully hidden: no bare earth is visible. Pots of small-leafed ivies trail under tree fuchsias. If a plant sulks or isn't performing, it disappears but is immediately replaced by another pot.

Year-round schedule keeps the flowers coming

A carefully worked-out schedule keeps this color extravaganza looking prime.

April and May. Plant and arrange pots of indoor favorites, such as hibiscus. Plant summer bloomers--gerberas and cosmos--in plastic pots (six to eight plants per 8-inch pot). Sink pots into terra cotta pots; move them into place as buds begin to color.

June into October. Water, feed, and groom plants regularly and enjoy.

Mid-October into November. Plant 12 plastic pots with tulip and daffodil bulbs (12 to 16 bulbs per 8-inch pot). Plant 12 more plastic pots with primroses for winter-spring bloom. As soon as tuberous begonia foliage begins to yellow, cut tops off to 6 inches above tuber and move pots indoors. Allow tubers to dry off in dark corner of a storage room. Move fuchsias, pelargoniums, and geraniums to unheated garage or out of sight under an overhang. If pests have been a problem, spray with malathion or orthene before moving indoors. Water monthly in winter.

February. When weather or forecasts permit, fill plastic pots with primroses; place outside. Begin watering tuberous begonians when they show red growth eyes. Trim back fuchsias (both tree types and ones in baskets) as new growth begins to appear.

March. Place ready-to-bloom daffodils and tulips with primroses near entrances. As leaves of tuberous begonians begin to expand, fertilize plants and move them into the light. Fertilize and water fuchsias. On warm days, open garage doors. Put plants into place in early May, along with geraniums.
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Title Annotation:Wanda Morken's garden; includes related article on year-round schedule keeps the flowers coming
Date:May 1, 1990
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