Dragonwing and greenleaf white begonias border a fountain in a Largo garden. All photos courtesy Landscapes by Randy Lee.

Winter Colors: Randy Lee designs gardens that sing of the season

By David Warner

Lights and wreaths and inflatable snowmen may be the sum of most outdoor holiday decorations, but a landscape designer can give your outdoor decor a makeover you can enjoy all year round.

“We do what I call a seasonal color change,” says St. Petersburg-based landscaper Randy Lee. “Typically in the winter we spend the month of November doing winter flowers — geraniums, begonias, impatiens, snapdragons, alyssum [a low white creeper]. It’s really a multitude of colors. And we’ve got to have good ol’ petunias.”

Palms bordered by geraniums and alyssum. “Geraniums are probably the king, the least amount of maintenance,” says Lee. “They’re also salt-tolerant so you can have them by the water.”

Red and white is a popular combination, but Lee likes to “mix it up a bit with different color combinations” — because, he reminds clients, by the time January rolls around “red and white gets old — you’re going to have it till May or June.”

Most of these brightly colored flowers and shrubs are annuals, which have to be replanted yearly. “Come the heat of summer,” Lee says, “these all go away and we have a beautiful selection of perennials in their place, like lantana, periwinkle and blue daze.”

Red and white impatiens and blue daze. “The impatiens are very happy because this is a very wet area,” says Lee. “They like water.”

If you’d like to plan for a holiday-ready garden, it’s best to start planning in the summer. He’s heard from clients who ask for 20 poinsettias when it’s time for the seasonal changeout.

“But a lot of that is booked out several months in advance.”