For outdoor plant lovers who live in cold climates, winter is a period of "down time." We automatically go into "wait till next year!" mode. It's a time to rewind through the images we've stored in our minds of what plants pleased us most during the past growing season. If some of those must-have plants appeared only in the yards of other people, we hit the fast forward button and visualize what they'd look like in our own landscapes next year.
The transition from fall to winter isn't a very subtle one. It almost seems as if one day we're basking in the bounty of autumn, and the next day Old Man Winter bursts into the room and blusters, "Might as well order your gardening catalogs: it's the closest you'll come to enjoying most outdoor plants for a while."
Forgive me for agreeing with Old Man Winter (it doesn't happen often!), but, come to think of it, it's not such a bad piece of advice, really. We arrive at some of our best ideas during periods of down time. Besides gardening catalogs and the Web, winter holiday floral arrangements can be a source of inspiration. For example, an arrangement delivered for Christmas, New Year's or Valentine's Day might spark an interest in certain plants used as cut flowers that you had never considered growing before.
"There are any number of excellent plant choices for use as cut flowers," remarks Marie Iannotti. In this article on selecting cut flowers, About.com's Gardening Guide lists repeat-blooming annuals as well as perennials.
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Photo ©2011 David Beaulieu (licensed to About, Inc.)