It won't be long before folks are heading to the garden centres to see what’s what in the world of ornamentals. I’ve already stopped in at a few nurseries, but around here in Southern Ontario, the droves don’t come out until mid-May and many garden centres, especially the smaller ones, are still closed or not fully stocked yet.
|This family-run nursery near Elora, Ontario was an exception as it was well stocked in mid-April.|
Their selection of sedums and coleus was incredible!
Last May, I received a variety of plants to trial from Proven Winners, all of which will be newly available at retail this year. With our last frost date just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to talk about some of the winners in my garden. I’ve highlighted each of these on Instagram, but I’ll provide a few more details on my experiences in this post. If you don’t follow me on Instagram fear not - all the info I posted there is also included here 😊
Bright Lights ® Pink Osteospermum (African Daisy)
I can’t resist African Daisies – there’s just something about their perfect-as-a-painting colouration that always makes me stop in my tracks…literally. I was in Lisbon last year and walked by a planter filled with African Daisies and I had to turn back, admire and take a few pics in the process.
Bright Lights Pink is truly a knock-out…the ombre colouration is amazing. What’s most impressive about this particular variety is that it's more heat tolerant than standard African daisies - even with our super-hot summer last year, I had blooms pretty much all season long.
The Details: 8-12” tall, 8-12” spread, part sun to full sun, great in containers, more heat tolerant than typical African Daisies.
Angelface ® Steel Blue Angelonia angustifolia (Summer Snapdragon)
Angelface Steel Blue snapdragon is touted as the perfect plant for those that live in areas with very sunny, hot, humid summers and it didn’t disappoint.
I hadn’t grown snapdragons in many years - not since we moved here – and I’ve been missing out.
I plopped it into a pot (and a relatively small 12” pot at that) and not once did it wilt, even during our hottest 30 degree days (86F+). It’s another one on the list of easy to grow, low care plants that keeps on giving. No deadheading required and it bloomed until frost.
The Details: 18-30” tall, 12-18” spread, full sun, heat/humidity/drought tolerant, great both in containers and landscape.
Lemon Coral ™ Sedum mexicanum
Named the 2019 Annual of the Year…and deservedly so.
This succulent was not only one of my favourites, but also the trial plant that popped up the most in social media last summer…everyone went gaga over it. Check out the hashtag #lemoncoralsedum on Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.
The fact that I loved it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise considering how much I adore succulents and this one is absolutely gorgeous - it simply glowed in the garden. I planted mine in a wide but shallow pot and it was a happy camper all the way to frost. It filled the pot in a flash and simply shrugged off our hot, humid summer.
I received two of these and, in my trial-and-error ways, I planted one in a pot with some nasturtium and the other with dwarf strawflowers.
|Sedum & strawflower seedlings|
By the end of the summer, the pot was ALL sedum. I’ll do the nasturtium again – it looked rather nice trailing down the side of the pot. The strawflower, however, wasn't anywhere near dwarf enough & looked altogether odd – like a couple of tall sticks topped with colourful pompoms sticking out of the sedum. There won’t be a repeat of that!
If you are lucky enough to be in U.S. hardiness zone 7 or warmer, this one is a perennial for you (and I’m thoroughly jealous)! If not, then you can overwinter it indoors – which I would have done had we not gotten a new kitten last summer.
The Details: 3-10” tall; 10-14” spread, part sun to full sun, heat and drought tolerant…amazing in containers!!
Superbells ® Doublette Love Swept ™ Calibrachoa
Okay, I’m fessing up…being primarily a veg gardener until quite recently, I had not heard of calibrachoa (pronounced "kal-ih-bruh-KOE-uh"…yes, I looked it up 😉) which, apparently, is very popular in the hanging basket scene. And no wonder – it spilled over the sides of my pot with a nonstop show of blooms (it’s also known as a “Million Blooms”) all summer long until frost finally got to it. And there’s no deadheading with this one either, which is perfect for those like myself that already have a lot on their plates.
Visitors to my garden inevitably stopped and asked me about it – the flowers are less than 1” across but the stunning double blooms and their abundance provide the wow factor… I mean, how gorgeous is that fluorescent pink with pure white edging?
It's pretty darn gorgeous. In fact, someone was so taken with it that it was stolen – that’s right stolen! – from the Guelph Trial Gardens last year, the day after they had an open-house. I think this may have been a first and they were quite shocked by the incident.
|The potted coleus at the Guelph Trial Gardens were also stunning...|
The Trail Garden was not the only place where tragedy struck, however. I also had a bit of a mishap, but this one was of my own doing. Before we went on holiday at the end of June, I grouped all of my potted plants together and set up a drip line to water the plants while we were away. Since temperatures were forecast to be quit high, I set the timer to water the pots daily. When we got back, my poor calibrachoa was swimming in water – literally. Somehow the hole in the bottom of the pot became blocked and the water was not draining out 😬.
By some miracle – or more likely the resilience of the plant - it was not a total goner. One section of it survived and I was able to enjoy it for the rest of the season. Culture details for this calibrachoa indicate that this plant needs good drainage but it’s obviously resilient enough to take a bit of a beating on that front!
The Details – 6-12” tall, 12-24” spread, part sun-full sun, heat tolerant, no-deadheading required, best in a container
Rockin’ ® Fuchsia Salvia (Annual Salvia)
This annual salvia was the only plant on this list not grown in a pot. I planted it directly into the ground and I’m so glad that I did – it filled out quickly and looked amazing all summer long.
Here it is when I received it in late May:
And here it is in August:
And the best part? All this gorgeousness involved very little work. I simply plopped it into the ground & watered it throughout the season (rather sporadically I must say). That’s it…no special care, no fertilizer, no pinching. Even more impressive was that I planted it in a spot that was previously a wood chip path so it had never been amended and the soil was rather compressed 💗💗!
The Details: 24-36” tall, 24-30” spread, part sun to full sun, drought tolerant, attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
And that’s my lineup of Proven Winners 2019 introductions that really stood out in my garden last year. But before I sign off, I have a few things to say about the conditions in which I grew these plants and why I was so impressed by them.
Number 1 – As I mentioned, I grew all of these in pots, with the exception of the salvia. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m rather challenged when it comes to caring for plants in pots. The thing is, I absolutely love them (pots, that is) and am trying to incorporate potted plants throughout the garden, in beds, along paths, and in groupings all on their own. Practice makes perfect, right? It also helps to remind myself that there are no “mistakes” in the garden, just learning experiences
Number 2 – I was away for a good chunk of the summer – 3 separate times for a total of 4 weeks – and my plants were pretty much left to their own devices…sometimes drying out, sometimes overwatered (well, technically drowning, but let’s not get stuck on semantics) as in the calibrachoa fiasco.
Number 3 – It was a SUPER hot summer with temperatures in the high 20’s & 30’s (80-90’s F) for a good chunk of it. Coupled with my pot-challenged ways and the fact that the majority of pots were on the small side (i.e. in the 10-12” range), this could have been a recipe for disaster. But it wasn’t – every plant that I mentioned above did very well, with some – I’m taking about you Mr. Coral Sedum – absolutely thriving.
The bottom line is that while I will take credit for some of the success – I mean, growing in pots is NEVER a set-it-and-forget-it proposition – I think that the plants themselves deserve just as much of the credit.