Often the winter lacks color to engage children, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding your own color. A recent project I did with my children to add color to our garden, Helen’s Haven, was to paint last year’s growth of the Brugmansia.
Brugmansia, a.k.a. Brugs or Angle Trumpet, named for the shape of the flower, are big and bold sub-tropical plants from Central and South America. Brugs are perennial in warmer climates to Zone 8, but they over winter fine in our zone 7b garden. Clearly, Brugs are a perennial that breaks my zone acceptance criteria mentioned in five garden essentials to gardening with confidence; this is a plant worthy of flexing your zonal denial muscles.
A “southern garden” plant if ever there was one, Brugs reliably return each year. However, the last 2 years, they were late to bloom in Helen’s Haven, with their bloom time delayed (for reasons I can only speculate) coming dangerously close to the first frost and not having a chance to bloom at all. You see, once frost comes, Brugs are toast. But they can still be interesting all year long.
Brugs can be cut back to ground level after frost and covered with a heavy layer of mulch or the sticks can be left for architectural interest. I’m in the camp that leaves them up since I take advantage of these sticks by adding color to the garden.
The image on the left shows the Brugmansia in its natural, blond form. The image below shows No. 3 engaged in creating garden art with a Brugmansia.
The image above shows the finished project while in the garden.
With a left over can of spray paint from a previous project, in less than a 15 minutes, last year’s growth can go from blond to bling, creating garden art from a Brugmansia.
This truly is a quick and fun project to do with kids. In very little time, we created art. After we were done with our project, No. 3 (my youngest child; my 9 year son), was kicking his football through the field goal. He didn’t seem to notice it much while outside, but when this little guy came in for lunch, he looks out the window while washing up and sees his handy work. ”Mom, come quick,” I hear. Fearing something was wrong, I ran into the kitchen. He says, “You can see what we did from here, isn’t it great. Wait till Lily sees this?”
We will be enjoying the colorful art in the garden until the spring when the new growth of the Burgmansia starts to emerge. Or we can leave it to mix with the current year’s growth.
Brugs aren’t the only plant we can do this to. Look in the garden to see other semi-woody stems that will be replaced with new growth next year such as those from Lantana. Next time I’m out and about where paint is sold, I plan to pick up a can of fuchsia spray paint since I’m hearing the stems of a ‘Miss Huff’ Lantana calling my name.
Helen Yoest is a garden writer, speaker and garden coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™.
Helen is the founder, publisher and editor of:
Tarheel Gardening – your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.