Plant a Pink Breast Cancer Garden and Show Your Support
For many of us, October can be a tough month. While Halloween seems to dominate most people's minds, breast cancer has stolen many of our hearts. Whether you have a loved one who survived or one who was taken too soon, planting a pink garden is a lovely tribute to them. These pink flowers bloom in October and they're a lovely way to say, "I'm here for you."
I took all the pictures in this article in mid-October, so they are an accurate representation of the blooms you can expect in your garden.
Pink Knockout Rose
What could be more symbolic than a Knockout rose? Isn't that what we are all battling for? Thanks to the hard work of William Radler, a Wisconsin native, rose lovers can enjoy the captivating beauty of an ever-blooming rose that is extremely disease-resistant and drought-tolerant. It is hard to imagine a garden without roses. Their captivating beauty and lore are entwined in the hearts and minds of gardeners everywhere.
Rader grew up in Whitefish Bay and bought and planted his first rose when he was nine. His early fascination for roses led him to earn a landscape architecture degree, and he worked on breeding roses on the side. His Knockout roses have now become one of the most popular roses in the US for home gardeners.
Knockouts are cold hardy up to USDA zone 5. There are two pink varieties, Pink Knockout and Double Pink Knockout. Plant them in full sun and water well for about two weeks to get them established. They bloom from June through October and are very cold hardy. I give them organic rose food in the spring and once again in the fall. Unless trimmed, they will grow to about 4 feet high by 4 feet wide. In 15 years, I have only lost one bush to the freezing Illinois winters. They bloom prolifically and make great cut flowers.
First listed in the Tang Ben Cao, written in A.D. 659, honeysuckle was regarded as one of the most important Chinese herbs for clearing heat and poisons from the body. For centuries following, it was used in Chinese medicine to treat inflammation and is currently believed by Chinese researchers to regulate blood sugar.
Years ago, children would suck the nectar from its flowers leading to its name. The Victorians, well known for attaching meaning to many varieties of flowers, considered the honeysuckle a sign of devotion. What a meaningful addition to your tribute garden.
Blooming from late spring to the first frost, goldflame honeysuckle's 1.5-inch blooms are pink and soft yellow with wonderful fragrance, attracting hummingbirds in the summer. Growing up to 20 feet high and 6 feet wide, plant it in an area of your garden where it can sprawl, unless you want to spend time pruning. It prefers full sun and dry soil but can adapt to a wetter environment. Perfect for zones 5–9, it boasts bright red berries that are beloved by song birds.
A member of the amaranth family, the name celosia comes from the Greek word for "burned," referring to the flame-like shape of the flower, which is pink on the bottom and violet towards the tip. It is also referred to as cockscomb for its shape. Though originating in Africa, it is used as a food source throughout Southeast Asia.
Celosia is an annual, and I grow mine in containers. Though there is no reason you can't plant them directly into the ground. They do need full sun and will bloom from mid-June through the first frost. Growing about 14 inches high and 12 inches across, they add nice vertical interest and have prolific leaves. So they can be used at the front of your garden bed. Though they are a drought-tolerant plant, you will need to keep them watered if they are in a container.
Glenluce Bloody Cranesbill
I have many varieties of cranesbills, also known as wild geranium, in my garden beds throughout my yard. They are a wonderful plant and Glenluce is no exception. Blooming from June to October, soft pink flowers are scattered over delicate green foliage that looks like tiny maple leaves. Don't let the foliage fool you though. This is one tough plant.
Plant it at the front of the border and Glenluce will spread, choking out any weeds. To get it established, give it full sun, water for two weeks, and then ignore it. It will grow to about 1 foot high and spread 2 feet across. What could be better than a beautiful plant you can actively ignore?
Royal Light Pink Ivy Geranium
An old and well-beloved plant, the first species of geranium (Pelargonium) was a native of South Africa. In 1631, the English gardener John Tradescent bought seeds from Rene Morin in Paris and introduced the plant to England. By 1732, geraniums had spread throughout Europe.
The above picture of the royal light pink ivy geranium does not do it justice. A trailing plant, it really belongs hanging in a container to display its beauty. It grows to about 18 inches wide and long and is covered with numerous hot pink blooms. This plant does best in partial sun, and it will need to be watered frequently (about twice a week). That is very little work for such a large reward.
Vanilla Strawberry Panicle Hydrangea
The Chinese and Japanese were cultivating hydrangeas many thousands of years ago. In North America, the medicine men used the roots of hydrangeas as a means to drive out kidney stones and combat bronchitis. Now we simply love them for their beauty.
The vanilla strawberry variety loves full sun and is easy to grow. Planting is easy. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball, and then water once a week throughout the summer. It will grow to about 7 feet tall and about 5 feet wide. It needs rich, well-drained soil but is pest hardy. Prune them back to a third in the spring (March) to keep the plant robust.
The blooms on this plant take your breath away they are so beautiful. The longer the blooms are on the bush, the darker they become. During the winter, they will fade to a a parchment color and can be left on for winter interest. The pink blooms also make stunning cut flowers.
Fondant Fancy Garden Phlox
The earliest phlox to be cultivated was sent to Europe from Virginia in the early 18th century. Selected forms were on the market by the early 1800s in England, where they were included in bouquets to express that "our souls are united." A wonderful sentiment to include in a garden showing your support for a friend or loved one.
Blooming from mid-summer to late fall, the Fancy Fondant garden phlox produces large clusters of fragrant blooms with soft pink petals and a darker pink eye. Fondant Fancy is very popular for its late summer display in the sunny border. Beloved by butterflies, they make a great cutting flower. Plant them in a sunny spot and make sure they have good air circulation, as they can be susceptible to mildew. Remove spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Perfect for zones 4–9.
Sheffield Pink Mum
The chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb and goes back to the early 15th century BCE. The chrysanthemum appeared in Japan in 8 CE and was so loved that they adopted it as the official seal of the emperor.
The chrysanthemum was first introduced into the United States during colonial times and became wildly popular. In the United States, the chrysanthemum is the largest commercially produced flower due to its ease of cultivation, capability to bloom on schedule, diversity of bloom forms and colors, and holding quality of the blooms. For many of us, fall wouldn't be the same without mums.
The Sheffield Pink is probably my favorite fall plant, because when everything else has died out, it starts to bloom. Another plant you can depend on even though you ignore it, it grows to about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, crowned by soft pink blossoms with yellow centers. A hardy plant, it grows well in zones 5–9 and needs full sun. When everything else has gone, the mum will remain, just as your support for your loved one.
Is Planting a Pink Garden for Breast Cancer Something You Think You Will Do?
Planting and maintaining a garden can be a big commitment and quite time consuming depending upon the plants you choose and the size of your garden. Not sure you're ready to make such a large commitment? Plant the vanilla strawberry panicle hydrangea as a start. As they say, "It's the thought that counts."
© 2015 Chantelle Porter