The Grump does not gurgle and coo over just any plant. His jaundiced eye and furrowed brow subject each new plant sent to him by plant developers hoping to win his make-or-break approval to the most rigorous scrutiny. It therefore gives him great pleasure to award the uber-prestigious Grumpy Gardener Take-No-Prisoners Seal of Approval to a flower that passed the audition with flying colors.
How many of you have planted (or ever heard of) twinspur (Diascia sp.)? If you live in the South, like I do, not many have, I expect. Related to the snapdragon, this plant bears clusters of 3/4-inch flowers with pairs of prominent spurs on the back. I’d always admired this plant in gardens on the West Coast, but was leery of planting it in Alabama, as I thought our summer heat would reduce its lifespan to that of the average sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc.
Then this past spring, the folks at Proven Winners sent me samples of a new series of twinspur called Flying Colors. It bloomed nicely through the spring, as I expected. When the summer broil arrived, it went dormant, as I expected. But then it did something unexpected. Even though I gave it no special watering or other care through the summer, it didn’t die. It just sat there waiting patiently for fall.
September arrived and the twinspur awoke. Bloom upon bloom appeared. It is now the beginning of December and this thing has been kicking butt for three months! The temperature dropped to 29 last week and the twinspur just shrugged it off. Now I’m wondering if it’ll bloom all winter.
Flying Colors twinspur comes in colors of coral, red, pink-and-white, and rose. No doubt more colors are in the works. The first three are mounding, growing 8 to 12 inches tall and wide, while the rose one is shorter and trails. From my experience, all this new twinspur really needs is full to part sun and well-drained soil. It blooms continuously in cool weather and sheds old flowers by itself. You can grow it as a filler plant in the border or add it to hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers. One thing is certain — if you plant it in spring or early fall, you’ll get a much bigger autumn show than you will with pansies and violas.
Why am I telling you about this plant now when garden centers have already cleared out everything for their voluminous mountains of Christmas junk? Because I want you to print out this page right now and staple it to your forehead, so you’ll remember to ask for Flying Colors twinspur next spring. You can cut out eye-holes in the page so you can see.
To find a retailer near you that carries Proven Winners, click here.