New varieties of some old favorites
Experienced gardeners in our tri-county area know what it takes to be successful despite the routine challenges we face because of weather related issues.
Perhaps your garden plot has been established for years, building up a fine distinction of healthy soil next to patches of lawn areas that require little in the way of soil amendments.
Fine, old roses and clematis, lilac and iris seem to bloom each year with little or no interference from us.
But could it be that our gardening practices have become stagnant, like a worn out tree that needs extra attention to thrive? And for those newer to gardening, are you sometimes intimidated at the tremendous variety of plant stock to choose from?
There are so many new and interesting plants being introduced each year that even skilled gardeners can at times be caught off guard at the dizzying array of selections.
Many older established gardens at one time displayed the species Kniphofia, or most commonly called “red hot poker”. It was hardy, its tall spikes laughed at the wind, and it remained relatively disease-free.
Yet now, after years of careful selection and breeding, new and exciting colors are available. Kniphofia now comes in pure reds, greens, yellows, and the newest introduction for this season, “Orange Vanilla Popsicle”, a pure delight of color shown in the photo above.
Another new perennial comes from careful breeding of a beloved, older, garden plant, the columbine. Aquilegia “Denver Gold” is stately, exceptionally tall, and offers some of the longest spurs of any of the species grown, as shown in the photo above, at left. I’ve already observed hummingbirds dancing with it in the wind as they drink it’s rich nectar.
Not to be overlooked are several new introductions of excellent annual basket candidates, the Cuphea family.
Cuphea Ilavea “Tiny Mice” is a delightful little brilliant plant that has what a mouse might have in full-color, bright red ears, distinctive eyes, a nose and chin. It won’t over-winter in our area but its popularity will no doubt ensure its return next season.
The photo above illustrates its sincere “cuteness” and incredibly rich colors.
It makes excellent basket filler or could also be used to cascade over a stone fence or wall.
For years most of us have grown Salvia, especially “May Night” and its normal cultivars of lighter blossoms and pink rose. A variety introduced a few years ago is just as hardy here, Salvia “Caradonna,” its distinguishing feature being that, while it sports the intensely purple blossoms of May Night, Caradonna also carries dark stems giving delightful contrast to its healthy stature.
As with most Salvia, Caradonna blossoms freely and is an easy-keeper with few insect or disease problems and seems to laugh at drought, making it truly xeric (or drought-tolerant once established). The photo at right shows a Caradonna that was over-wintered in a one gallon pot and planted in my yard just this spring.
All of these plants and many more like them are available and were purchased at nurseries throughout our area.
For the experienced gardener who might imagine there is nothing new out there, don’t be shy about trying something different this year. If you have been successful with certain plants in the past, try a new cultivar or color.
For those who have less gardening experience, but the same enthusiasm, ask questions when plant shopping. I have discovered a delightful knowledge base is available and most nursery and store employees are more than happy to share the information they have. With all the new introductions, my only regret is that my pocketbook is not as large as my yard.