IN THE YARD: Sweetpeas

Bouquets of sweetpea flowers are beginning to brighten homes and offices this time of year, thanks to the generosity of home gardeners.

The dainty flowers, very fragrant, come in wonderful colors of red, pink, yellow, blue, purple and white. They need a sunny place to grow and a fence or trellis for support.

If you’d like to try them some time, local gardeners say to get your packets of seed early in September — and, a word to the wise, gardening stores seem to run out of the seeds early.

Some people like to put the seeds in the refrigerator until it’s time to plant in early October.

The sweetpeas will at first come up to a height of about 3 to 4 inches and then stay steady, waiting for their launch date in spring.

They’ll do fine through the winter — just keep them watered — then, when the weather warms, they’ll begin to grow and cover the fence with greenery and blooms that come for six to eight weeks.

More color: Angelonia flowers are some of my favorite for the garden, especially as “fill-in” plants between and behind larger, showier flowers.

Especially seen up close, angelonia put on quite a show themselves. Their tiny little, snapdragon-like blossoms crowd the stem and come in pinks, whites, blues and purples.

They’re low maintenance and tough, despite their delicate, little blooms, and will last until the first killing frost, according to Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist.

This month is a good time to plant them.

Gifts of violets: The Baton Rouge Orchid Society has begun a new program. It’s partnering with Whole Foods to recover orchids that have been damaged or wilted a bit, and have been left by shoppers on the store shelves.

Orchid Society members “adopt” the plants and nurture them back to full, blooming health, then present them to cancer patients at Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.

The society was recently able to present 12 patients with orchid plants to brighten up their room.

READERS WRITE: If you’d like to share your gardening tips and triumphs, email ecouvillion@theadvocate.com.

Ellyn Couvillion

Advocate staff writer