Plant an Easter basket in your garden

Colleen Smith

Ellen and Don Scott wanted a cheery "Easter basket" effect at the entry to their Denver home. Landscape designer Rebecca Serratoni fulfilled their wish by mingling Lavender Shades and Ultima Silhouette Mix pansies with soft pink 'Angelique' and white 'Mount Tacoma' tulips. She edged the beds with blue hyacinths (they finished blooming just before this photo was taken in mid-April).

Timing is the key to this coordinated spring bloom. Planting early in fall gives the pansies ample time to send out roots before a hard freeze hits. Before planting, Serratoni tills and amends the soil with bonemeal and compost. The bulbs are planted first, then the pansies.

This south-facing bed gets full sun and is backed by the house's brick wall, which absorbs solar heat by day and radiates it back at night. Consequently, the soil warms even on days when the air temperature hovers below freezing. A 2- to 3-inch layer of cedar mulch helps stabilize the soil temperature and holds in moisture, which the pansies need.

During the winter, Serratoni applies a liquid fertilizer formulated for pansies. After the bulbs emerge, she feeds all of the plants weekly by spraying them with a solution of 1 tablespoon fish emulsion mixed with 1 gallon water.

DESIGN: Rebecca Serratoni, Denver ( 720/320-9197)

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