Written on January 6, 2012 at 11:05 am , by Denny Schrock
Asking a hortiholic to list his or her favorite plant is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. It’s impossible to choose just one! So when I was asked to select top picks of recent plant introductions that I have grown, I came up with a “short list” of 25. You can see them all here on the bhg.com gardening website. To pique your interest, see the garden combinations below which contain some of my favorites from the 2011 garden season.
What were your favorite plants this last year?
Written on November 9, 2011 at 11:01 am , by Denny Schrock
While trimming back frosted foliage this past weekend, I noticed quite a few annuals and perennials that had survived the fall freezes. I had to admire their tenacity! Here are a dozen flowers that were still attractive in my yard earlier this week. I’ll soon see whether they bounce back after the 4 inches of snow that covered the garden last night!
Written on July 11, 2011 at 8:28 am , by Everyday Gardeners
The following is a guest blog post from Chris Tidrick a gardener, writer and photographer.
Although we’re only a short way into the summer calendar, I have a good idea which plants are going to be the highlights in my gardens. Summer perennials are lush with foliage and starting to bloom, while the annuals planted in containers and garden beds no longer resemble those tiny plants I purchased in flats just a few weeks ago. There’s so much competing for attention in the summer landscape, it often takes the unique plant or combination of plants to truly grab our attention.
This year, a handful of new plants and a couple of garden veterans are stealing the show in my garden.
I grow a lot of coleus (Solenostemon), but the one variety that stands out is ‘Twist and Twirl’. True to its name, its burgundy, yellow, and green, deeply lobed foliage appears to dance up the main stem. More upright and narrow than most coleus, ‘Twist and Twirl’ makes an excellent choice for a vertical element in containers. I have found that it combines best with other burgundy and green coleus, as the bright yellow isn’t the most complementary color with other hues.
Heuchera has taken garden centers by storm in the past few years, but I have to admit that I still waver when asked my opinion on this diverse group of foliage perennials. Perhaps I haven’t given them the proper growing conditions, but most Heuchera I’ve planted seem to simply survive rather than flourish in my garden. I’d slowly been giving up on them, until planted H. ‘Cherry Cola’, a cultivar whose new growth emerges a deep cherry red and slowly fades to a darker brown-red as it ages. When backlit, the plant appears to have glowing embers under the foliage. The foliage color, combined with an above average vigor, definitely places ‘Cherry Cola’ on the short list of attention grabbers this summer.
Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’
From Rudbeckia to Leucanthemum and many genus in between, the choices for summer-flowering, daisy-type flowers seem endless. One plant that is often overlooked is Helenium, or Helen’s flower. A number of cultivars are available, ranging from yellow to orange to red. In my garden, ‘Mardi Gras’ is the cultivar of choice. Standing 30-36 inches tall, it is covered in yellow-orange blooms from June through September.
I’ve also been enamored this summer by ‘Black and Blue’, an annual salvia (S. gauranitica). The true blue petals of ‘Black and Blue’, which resemble Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in form if not color, emerge from a nearly black calyx attached to the stem. In full bloom, the flowers of ‘Black and Blue’ appear to be tiny pennants run up along a ship’s mast. The foliage is green and indistinct, but forms a solid base below these outstanding flowers.
I’ve never been that attracted to yarrow (Achillea), with its weedy foliage and tendency to fade in the summer heat and overwinter poorly during our Midwestern winters. But as I was browsing a clearance table at a garden center last fall, the name ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and a two dollar price tag convinced me to give it a try. So far, it’s been worth far more in my garden. Planted at the base of a large ‘Jackmanii’ clematis, my small clump of ’Strawberry Seduction’ manages to catch my eye every time I walk through the garden.
Any discussion of the attention grabbers in the early summer garden has to include Hemerocallis. I grow nearly 30 different varieties of daylilies in my garden. While my collection focuses heavily on red culivars, including ’Angel Fire’, ‘Ivory Edges’, and ‘Christmas Carol’, there is one I wouldn’t do without: H. ‘Kwanso’. A close, yet cultivated, relative of the much disparaged “ditch lily” H. fulva, ‘Kwanso’ commands attention with its double-petaled orange flowers and vigorous (almost aggressive) growth habit. While many of my other Hemerocallis specimens may get overlooked at first glance, ‘Kwanso’ in full bloom is undeniably a starring member of my garden.
While I’d be remiss to ignore ‘Jackmanii’ clematis that forms the focal point of my front border, ’Jackmanii’ is so well known that it seems redundant to give it more attention. Besides, another clematis in my garden may actually be outperforming ‘Jackmanii’ this year. ‘Rouge Cardinal’ is finally coming into its own after growing on the corner of my home for several years, is covered with dark red-purple, velvet-textured blooms from June through July. After the petals fade, the seed heads that remain are beautiful in their own right.
Often plants form an attention-grabbing combination in the garden. In this container that grows near the end of our driveway, Calibrachoa Cabaret ‘Hot Pink’ and Pelargonium ‘Happy Thought’ (zonal geranium) combine to form a trailing base below a dark pink tropical Hibiscus. The yellow variegation in the Pelargonium foliage offsets the orange-red flowers and forms a clear transition between the solid green foliage of the Calibrachoa and Hibiscus.
Sometimes breaking the rules of gardening can lead to a unique plant combination. While putting my containers together, I had three leftover plants: Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace’, Impatiens Tempo ‘Cancun’ and a small division of a variegated Hosta. While the light needs of these plants are on opposite ends of the spectrum, I decided to push the growing conditions for all the plants involved because I loved the combination of the blue and salmon, with a slight interruption of the yellow variegation in the Hosta.
Those are just a few of the attention grabbers growing in my garden. Please feel free to use the comment feature to share those plants and plant combinations that are starring in your summer garden. Please join me at my blog, From the Soil, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Written on March 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm , by Doug Jimerson
Last week, for the third time in a row, I had the opportunity to judge the trial gardens at Costa Farms, near Homestead, Florida. At first blush, it seems an easy thing to do—just wander through bed after bed of beautiful flowers on a sunny Florida morning. But, in reality, it’s hard work, evaluating each plant on four important criteria: growth uniformity, foliage appeal, flower power/size, and consumer appeal. Fellow judges included Heather Will-Browne from Disney and Dr. Alan Armitage from the University of Georgia. Here are a few of my favorite picks (left to right, top to bottom) that you should watch for in your garden, this year or next.
- Lobelia ‘Techno Heat, Upright Light Blue’ from Syngenta
- Petunia ‘Blueberry Ice’ from Dummen
- Petunia ‘Littletunia Sweet Pink’ from Ecke
- Argyranthemum ‘Flutterby Yellow’ from Ecke
- Verbena ‘Royal Chambray’ from Proven Winners
- Hollyhock ‘Spring Celebrities Lemon’ from Takii
- Coleus ‘Burgundy Wedding Train’ from Ecke
- Coleus ‘Wasabi’ from Ball Flora Plant
- Viola ‘Sorbet Banana Cream’ from PanAmerican Seed
- Petunia ‘Violet Picotee’ from Ball Flora Plant
- Phlox ‘Phloxy Lady Pink’ from Dummen
- Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens’ (all varieties) from Sakata
- Pansy ‘Blueberry Thrill’ from Sakata
Written on March 16, 2011 at 6:02 am , by Justin W. Hancock
I had the opportunity to see some cool new plants on my recent trip to Costa Farms — as well as some favorites, such as this delightful annual phlox. This variety is ‘Phloxy Lady Pink’, and there’s a lot to be said for it: A nice, compact habit, loads of blooms, and great heat/drought tolerance (this species is native to Texas, so hot and dry isn’t a problem!).
Grow ‘Phloxy Lady’ and other varieties in full sun in well-drained soil. Don’t let them stay wet too long — that’s a surefire way to make these gorgeous plants sulk. Its compact habit makes this particular variety especially good in containers, too!
Written on January 24, 2011 at 7:56 am , by Katie Ketelsen
For years flowers have grown around a plethora of garden accents–from the gazing ball…to trellis…to statues for whatever mood fits you.
But for me I prefer highlighting my garden with vintage finds.
It’s a true extension of my interior space. And that’s what I think gardening should be about–revealing your style throughout the spaces that you enjoy the most. Take a look around your home…find what makes you the happiest, the most comfortable, and see if you can incorporate that into your own garden.
Here’s a quick glance at the chicken feeder…before the plants took over. This summer I was going with “more is better” philosophy….I might have learned my lesson.
As you may have figured out….I love weathered galvanized metal and have a chicken feeder fetish. Recently, Deborah Silver on Dirt Simple rounded up a fantastic lineup of containers that I’d love to have in my garden. There’s more to these obsessions, but I’ll save that for another story-time. Do you have a fetish? One that you carry on into the garden? Tell me about it! I don’t want to be the only one!!