Tuesday, February 7, 2023 Feb 7, 2023
59° F Dallas, TX

D Home Test Garden

We present the Dallas Arboretum’s best plants for 2001-2002, plus a how-to by landscape designer Becky Winn for decorating a Christmas tree—with pansies!
By D Magazine |


the 2001 test garden winners




Field trials are conducted year-round at the Dallas Arboretum in conjunction with Texas AandM University. The purpose of these trials is to evaluate many plant varieties under conditions similar to those of a Dallas homeowner or landscaper. The Dallas Arboretum Trial Garden is open to the public and always popular with visitors. Not only do guests get a first glimpse of new plant varieties, but they also get to see how well they perform in our climate. The following plants represent some of my favorites from our 2001 summer trials.

Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Silver’ (Petunia x hybrida) is the best of the new “hedgiflora” petunias this year. These flowers quickly form spreading mounds and are very heat-tolerant. ‘Silver’ produces masses of blooms and maintains excellent color despite the summer heat. Great both as a bedding plant and a container plant.




Petunia ‘Lavender Wave’ (Petunia x hybrida) is the newest addition to the ‘Wave’ petunia series; it’s also one of the best. ‘Lavender Wave’ blooms heavily throughout the summer heat and spreads quickly. This is a very low-growing petunia, reaching only 3 to 4 inches in height. Great in containers.

Angelonia ‘Angelmist Purple Stripe’ (Angelonia angustifolia) is a perfect fit for the English-style border. It has an informal look and blooms continuously from spring through fall. ‘Purple Stripe’ is low maintenance and will thrive in full sun in hot, dry areas. Makes a nice cut flower.






Ornamental Pepper ‘Chilly Chili’ (Capsicum annum) is the best dwarf ornamental pepper I’ve tested yet. The plants are vigorous and lush; the fruit is large and colorful. While most dwarf peppers perform better as container plants, ‘Chilly Chili’ also works well as a bedding plant.


Garden Phlox ‘John Fanick’ (Phlox paniculata) is probably the very best perennial-garden phlox variety currently on the market. ‘John Fanick’ blooms abundantly and continuously from spring through fall. Its sturdy, dense growth habit and resistance to powdery mildew make it a low-maintenance winner.





Dwarf Maiden Grass ‘Adagio’ (Miscanthus sinensis) is a dwarf perennial ornamental grass. Unlike its larger cousins, this Miscanthus grows to only 3 feet tall. ‘Adagio’ has deep green foliage with profuse wheat-colored blooms from summer through fall. A great plant for adding texture to your garden.






Cleome ‘Linde Armstrong’ (Cleome hasslerana) is a compact, thornless Cleome variety with pink flowers and outstanding heat tolerance. ‘Linde’ delivers the familiar pink Cleome blooms, but without all the staking. Plants reach only 18 inches in height, are full and vigorous, and thrive in full sun.




Gomphrena ‘Lavender’ (Gomphrena globosa) has lavender clover-like blossoms that continue to emerge all summer long. The 2-foot stems make great cut flowers for fresh and dried arrangements. Flower color is long-lasting, and these beauties thrive in a hot, dry location.





Dianthus ‘Bouquet Purple’ (Dianthus x hybrida) is a new Dianthus hybrid that doesn’t mind the heat. I was completely shocked when it continued to bloom throughout the summer. The plants are very vigorous and grow to about 24 inches in the landscape. Regular deadheading promotes new blooms.





our natural christmas tree


Landscape designer Becky Winn used pansies, heather, juniper, and moss to decorate a Christmas tree that can be used indoors or out.

our natural christmas treeWe were feeling quieter this year and wanted a simple tree for Christmas—nothing sparkly or overdone. So we asked Becky Winn of Whimsical Gardens for an organic alternative to the bright-lights thing. Something, perhaps, even real. Becky went to Nicholson-Hardie to look around for inspiration and arrived just as flats of jewel-colored pansies were being set upon shelf after shelf. Pansies! Of course!

Becky, who is known in Dallas as the color guru, decided to go the non-traditional color route, ordering pansies in lavender, amethyst, and deep purples along with a beautiful Wichita Blue juniper, which is silvery green with wispy upward branches. She found an earthy stone pot and had the tree loaded into the pot and well-anchored. Becky then bought mauve-colored heather and moss.

“My concept was to have a tree you could leave outdoors through the holiday season,” Becky says. “But something that didn’t scream ‘I’m a designer Christmas tree.’” She wrapped about two dozen 4-inch pansy pots with the moss and wired them into the branches of the tree. She wired sprigs of heather into the tree to create upward movement. Moss-covered pots of alyssum in lavenders and purples were added, lending a cottage-garden feel to the tree. Becky surrounded it with pots of ornamental kale, pansies, and alyssum.

To keep the tree fresh through the season, Becky recommends thoroughly watering the little pots with a fine mist and feeding the pansies with a pinch of bone meal from time to time. Be sure to keep the tree in a bright spot so the pansies will continue to bloom.






end of year gardener’s checklist

November is the time to plant sweet peas, cosmos, morning glories, larkspur, and poppies. As in nature, there are no guarantees—your
fall seeding efforts may go awry because of weather conditions—but what the heck; it’s an excuse to poke around your garden in this splendid cool air.

ALSO SOW: radishes, spinach, turnips, onion, coriander, mustard greens, parsley
SEEDLINGS TO PLANT: pinks, pansies, Iceland poppies, snapdragons, kale
BULBS TO PLANT: daffodils, anemones, Grape hyacinths, crocus
DON’T FORGET: Bring in all of your houseplants before the first freeze. Sprinkler systems need to be reprogrammed to start at dusk to inhibit light freezes.

December is a slow-down month, but gardeners do not stop. We still have work to do. Be smart and select your Christmas tree early. Saw off the end and let the tree soak in a bucket of water outside until you are ready to bring it in and decorate it.

BULBS TO PLANT: You still have time to plant your daffodils, anemones, Grape hyacinths, and crocuses.
FERTILIZE: Your pansies could use a dose of blood meal or a fertilizer that contains high contents of phosphorus. Put down a solid 3-inch layer of mulch on all of your bedding plants.
DON’T FORGET:  Visit the Dallas Arboretum’s test garden and winter events (see the calendar on page 120 for more detail).
PRUNE: Your live oaks and fruit trees could take a good pruning now. And you can trim hollies and evergreens to give them a nice shape.

January is pick-up-a-gardening-book month; your garden will never look as good as it does now—in your imagination.

TIME TO PLANT: If the ground is not frozen, you can actually plant roses this month, as well as hardy shrubs and trees.
PROTECT: All of your beddings plants—pansies, snapdragons, kale, and pinks—will need protection when a deep freeze threatens.
TIME TO SOW: If you’d like to get a head start on the season, you can sow seeds for alyssum, eggplant, petunias, peppers, tomatoes, and morning glories indoors.
DON’T FORGET: Your sprinkler system should still be set for watering at dusk. But if plants are already frozen, don’t spray them with water.