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Turn your flower garden green this St. Patrick's Day

The Green Rose, which is all sepals and no petals, has an unusual black pepper scent. This rarity is a favorite in heritage rose gardens.
The Green Rose, which is all sepals and no petals, has an unusual black pepper scent. This rarity is a favorite in heritage rose gardens.

Are you feeling the green? This St. Patrick's Day offers a break in the (much-needed) rain and an opportunity to shift gardening gears into spring. And in the spirit of St. Patrick, you might consider planting some green flowers, too.

As a flower color, green makes an eye-catching conversation starter. It's unusual to see green blooms in the landscape -- or a vase. Not only are these blooms potential garden stars, these examples work great as cut flowers, too.

A bright chartreuse, Envy heirloom zinnia works beautifully in bouquets with bright yellows and white as well as soft pinks and pastels. An old-fashioned favorite, Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) is actually native to Syria. In the Victorian language of flowers, this annual represents luck. With an evocative name, Love Lies Bleeding amaranthus makes a dramatic statement with long chains of tiny green flowers. For the winter garden, Green Ice hellebore catches the light in dry shade.

With a long and storied history, the Green Rose (Rosa chinensis viridiflora) has found a home in heritage rose gardens. In the 1800s, this strange rose is believed to have been used as a signal along the Underground Railroad; sympathizers willing to help escaped slaves grew it near their garden gate or wore it on their lapel.

In summer, the aptly named St. Patrick hybrid tea rose shows off its green streak. Usually yellow, the blooms turn lime green in July heat.

Meanwhile, here are other garden tasks to tackle this week:

  • In the vegetable garden, plant seeds for beets, carrots, celery, Swiss chard, endive, fennel, jicama, leaf lettuce, mustard, radishes and turnips.
  • In the flower garden, plant aster, celosia, cosmos, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana, portulaca, salvia, snapdragon, verbena and zinnia.
  • In the greenhouse or indoors, start seed for summer and winter squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. They'll be ready to transplant in late April or May.
  • Feed flowering shrubs, roses and berries with slow-release fertilizer as spring growth appears.
  • Check for aphids. They feast on that early spring growth. Knock them off tender green leaves and shoots with a strong blast of water from the hose. Or squirt those bugs with insecticidal soap. To make your own, add 1 tablespoon liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap or Ivory dish soap) to 1 quart water. Put in spray bottle and shake before using.
  • Pull weeds now! Don't let them get growing.