By Stephanie Hudak
I was going to tell you how the containers were fairing after that single digit nightmare we had. Well, the short story is — bad. Except for the kale which did great; wait I need to clarify that. The Winterbor kale looks wonderful. Wanna guess why they named it that?
The Peacock kale which is mostly around Town Park had leaf burn. The plant itself is alive and will recover but the outer most leaves went from that lovely purple/fuschia color to a ghostly gray. After lots of grooming I can only hope all will recover and we will have lots of color in the containers again soon.
But back to the original purpose of this story….new plants for 2014. Different groups will name their special plant. Georgia Native Plant Society always has their pick; the Perennial Plant Society has theirs; and the list goes on. But I just received my new copy of The American Gardener, which by the way, is absolutely the best magazine for gardeners.
You join the Society, which is tax deductible, and among other benefits, you get this awesome magazine. So, if you are getting it I apologize for repeating the information, but otherwise I just had to tell you about these great new plants for this year.
As I looked at the great photos of each plant I did have to keep in mind that this magazine covers all zones, so some things won’t do well in the hot and humid south. I still lusted after them but the sane mind prevailed. For some reason we all seem to be drawn to echinaceas (coneflowers).
And every year the growers come up with another hot new plant we “need” to have. Admittedly, echinaceas are fussy little critters. Watering is the biggest issue – too much and they drown – too cold and they just won’t come back to play.
But I am willing to try this one: Echinacea purpurea Supreme ‘Cantaloupe’ – the young flowers have dark centers that turn light orange. It grows up to 29 inches with strong stems so no flopping. Think about the combination of orange and purple in your garden – a wow factor for sure. Veronica are great plants in the garden – tough, sturdy and reliable.
The new one is Veronica spicata ‘Novoberblu’ also known as Dark Blue Moody Blues – love that name. It has deep blue flowers all summer on a compact plant that only gets 12 to 14 inches tall. Daylilies are one of my favorite plants even though the flower itself only lasts a day the impact is worth the short time frame.
Check out Hemerocallis ‘Midnight Raider’ – a reblooming daylily that has large ruffled, fragrant (yeah) red-purple blossoms that have yellow halos and green throats….beautiful. There is a new coreopsis called ‘Bengal Tiger’, purported to be a vigorous grower that has rust-red flowers that bloom all summer. That’s pretty special for a perennial.
One of the toughest summer annual plants that you can use in your gardens is a fan flower, otherwise known as Scaevola aemula. They hold up to our intense heat and high humidity – and they are great for hanging baskets. Look for Whirlwind White fan flower.
New in the petunia world is Petunia x hybrid ‘Cha-ching Cherry’ – isn’t that a great name. It has creamy-white flowers with vibrant cherry strips and yellow throats. I’m personally cautious about petunias until they “prove” themselves but this one looks so good I’d try it.
There is a new zinna in the Zahara series called Sunburst. They grow to 12 to 18 inches tall and are perfect for the middle of the garden. Overall the Zahara series is great, so anything that comes out of it should be good. T
here is another coleus that came out but I wasn’t impressed with it. I am quite fussy about coleus so you will have to decide for yourself if you like this one – ‘Mighty Mosaic’. The name itself should tell you that is multi-colored – shades of burgundy and chartreuse. It grows 18-24 inches tall and really does best in the shade. The best part about this plant is that it flowers very late in the fall. Goji berries are a great health food item and now you can grow them yourself – well, maybe….cause I’m not sure where you can source this plant. But if you did, it is a thorny deciduous shrub that grows to 10 feet tall and five feet wide. What fun that would be to have in your yard.
Another one of those garden club delights. Look for ‘Sweet Lifeberry’ (Lycium barbarum) – probably an online thing. A new tomato, which will probably need to be a seed catalog item, is ‘Summer Girl’ – a relative of ‘Early Girl’. This one produces a larger crop about a week earlier. The thing I liked best is that is more resistant of tomato diseases.
I haven’t personally ever grown a carrot but if you are into serious veggie stuff, check out ‘Adelaide’ carrot, which is supposed to be a true baby-sized hybrid. This is truly a seed option from Johnn’s Selected Seeds. Onto trees and shrubs, there is a new columnar oak – ‘Skinny Genes’ oak (love the name) (Quercus robur x Q. alba) that grows to 45 feet tall and 10 feet wide – talk about skinny.
I am not a rose person but I was impressed with ‘Heathcliff’ English rose (Rose Ausnipper). It is double scarlet flowering plant with a fragrance that is a mixture of tea rose with notes of cedar. And it only grows to about three feet by three feet.
There are so many great new plants in the market this year that will give your gardening experience a whole new lift. I wish I could tell you where to get any of these new items but the industry itself is just holding on. Your best bet is to go to the internet and search, which will probably mean you have to order them But what fun it will be to have something new and unusual in your garden. Something to watch and challenge your gardening skills against.
I mentioned the magazine The American Gardener – it really is worth every penny. It is not just a pretty picture thing – lots of great in-depth information. Check it out. And do that hug thing