Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


There are a ton of cool new plant varieties on the market this year and one of the most striking is Verbena Lanai Twister Pink. I think it’s cool because of the fun color combo — it’s unlike any verbena I’ve ever seen before and it kind of feels like you’re getting two plants for one because of the bright pink and white.

I also like it because I think it’s easy to mix:

  • The pink/white combo works really well with rich blues and purples (Lanai Twister Pink is fabulous with the spikes of Angelonia).
  • Go high-impact by mixing it with some rich burgundy foliage (such as sweet potato vine).
  • Or if you want to go really contemporary, pair it with a bold orange such as dwarf zinnias, French marigolds, or spiky celosia.
  • Play off the rounded heads and get a soft, romantic look by integrating it with pink geraniums and Euphorbia Diamond Frost or Euphoric White. Or add a touch of pink with Euphorbia Breathless Blush.

Thinking of all these combos makes me want to go out and pot up a bunch of new containers!

What do you think this plant would look the best paired up with? Comment below!

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!

'Walker's Low' catmint

'James Galway' rose

Verbena canadensis

Snow Princess sweet alyssumTwinny Peach snapdragon

Scabiosa 'Vivid Violet'

Salvia plumosa

'Pomegranate' yarrow

'Glamour Red' flowering kale

Chrysanthemum 'Cool Igloo'

Viola 'Endurio Sky Blue'


Lamium 'Anne Greenaway'

Doug and I arose early Wednesday morning eager to get on the road and see more great new plant varieties. Our first stop was in Lompoc — UK plant breeding company Floranova and its exceptionally cool brand of vegetables, Vegetalis. It was here we got to see such plants as beautifully variegated ‘Field of Dreams’ corn, adorable ‘Whispers’ nicotiana, and sweet little Royale salpiglossis.

And one of the coolest thing is that Floranova set up displays in their greenhouse that looked like planting beds (very nice ones at that!) and they a fantastic job of mixing vegetables and herbs right in with their flowering annuals. Floranova even had a movie-set-style house facade in their greenhouse to help show off landscaping ideas with their products.

'Field of Dreams' corn on the ends of this bed with 'Whispers' nicotiana running in a line down the middle. Great plants!

Look at how easy it is to mix veggies with your flowers in a home landscape setting!

After taking in the sights at Floranova, it was time to jump back in the car and we drove 50 miles south to Santa Barabara where, at Imagination Canyon Greenhouses, we were able to meet with three companies in one stop. The first was European plant breeder GGG, a company which I’d love to see more of their plant varieties around the US. One standout product was Velox Pink — an unusual, mildew-resistant cross between annual phlox and verbena.

Also on board was Skagit Gardens from the Pacific Northwest. A great company that supplies many fine perennials to retail garden centers across the country, one of its stellar offerings was the Gold Collection of shade-loving, deer- and rabbit-resistant, drought-tolerant hellebores. Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ was also a fun one!

Next up was Florist De Kwakel, a Dutch company that almost exclusively breeds gerbera daisies. They have such interesting varieties, including ‘Midi Bicolour Double’, ‘Patio Everglades’, and the semi-hardy Garvinea series.

Plus we got to see what’s new in the world of plant tags from the John Henry company and snack on delicious chocolate croissants.

It was back in the car…and another 20 miles later we hit gorgeous Island View Nursery, where we had the opportunity to meet with wonderful folks from three more companies.

The first was Plant Haven, a company that helps bring some of the coolest plant varieties around to the market. You’re probably familiar with a lot of the plants they’ve handled — Black Scallop ajuga‘Fanfare’ gaillardia, and new-for-2011 ‘Ruby Falls’ redbud.

But this time they were showing off a ton of outstanding dianthus, including the Dessert series, the Star series, and more. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it smelled in there!!

In greenhouse right next to Plant Haven, we found Hort Couture — a group of plants you’ll only find at finer retail garden centers. They had so many topnotch varieties — some stellar calibrachoas, lobelias, petunias, coleus…and the list goes on!!

With them was wonderful European plant breeder Westhoff, known for their lobelias, verbenas, and calibrachoa. How can you not fall in love with a variety like ‘Superstar’ lobelia, double Roccoco Peach verbena, or Estrella Voodoo Star verbena?

Then it was off to Ball Horticultural, where afterward, all we could say was “wow!” They had a ton of new varieties, including ‘Wasabi’ coleus that really caught Doug’s eye last month when he was at Costa Farms. One of my favorite new varieties for next year is the Archangel line of angelonia (the purple, pink, and white flowers in the first picture below). The blooms are so much bigger than any other angelonia I’ve ever seen!

Not only did we see rock-star plants, but we also had a lovely visit with old friends and make some new ones. Plus, they gave us lunch and it was amazing!

Golden 'Wasabi' coleus...Wow! Especially with purple Archangel angelonia.

Did you see the first two installments? If not, check them out!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 4

blog1Last 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.


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