Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve is the start of the two week long Spring Lantern Festival, and my favorite holiday. Celebrated all over the world, this holiday is marked by three of my most enjoyed things, Fireworks, the color Red, and celebrating with friends and family. Leading up to that night, you clean your home, cut your hair, pay your bills, and prepare for a big party. Because at midnight, it is a non stop cavalcade of “Firework, Firework, boom, boom, Boom!”
In Ancient China, according to legend, a fierce-some dragon named Nian tormented villages, destroying homes and crops, and terrifying the people. It wasn’t until they discovered that this terrible beast had two weaknesses, the color Red, and loud noises, that our story had it’s arch, and the villagers began to have the upper hand. Implementing their newfound intelligence, a holiday from legend was born. So every time the night of the Lunar New Year falls, people around the world decorating their homes and selves with the color red, and precisely at midnight, fire off enough fireworks for an armada.
But shooting off fireworks in the city is illegal, and due to State Law, we Texans can only buy fireworks two times a year, the week preceding Fourth of July, and western New Year’s Eve. So how does a gardening firebug and Lunar New Year lover like myself keep that festive spirit all year round? By festooning my garden beds and porch with flowering shrubs, bushes, and various plants whose blooms resemble fireworks!
But as gardeners in zone 8 and 9, we must find blooms able to withstand our changeable climes. Luckily, a few promising plants emerge.
- Monarda, otherwise known as Bee Balm, or bergamot, is a member of the Mint family, with pink, red, and lavender blooms that burst forth is such an explosive display, they fit our bill. And as an herb and a 3 foot perennial, they create a great presence in any garden.
- Fall Asters can be relied upon to shower a colorful presence in our cooler late summer moments.
- Where would we be without the Alliums, our Garlic friends? Their flowering heads produce a globe of bright brilliance, and their bulb roots important places on our plates.
- Fireworks Fountain Grass with it’s majestic purple-red persona stand tall in any landscape, and quietly in the shade- loving corner, the Hosta Fireworks plant is glory its understated self.
- The Fireworks Plant, or Crossanda infumdibuliformis, with it’s coral-orange, and yellow blooms is a tropical, warm-weather lover, perfect for containers, and a sheltered porch.
- But my personal favorite is the classic landscaper’s dream, Loropetulem, or Chinese Firecracker plant, a full sun, shade and drought tolerant show stopper, acid soil-adoring beauty. Purple to green leaves, with it’s celebratory hot pink fringe, it brings stability and glamour to any garden, with it’s carefree elegance.
These are but a handful of the brilliant options that await any gardener with an adventurous spirit, and an excited eye. With these explosive, bright beauties, you can take a garden from all right to extraordinary!
Gung Hai Phat Choi, Gardeners, Happy New Year!