Fancy plants: Our current obsessions

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Life in the garden is never boring because something new is always happening. A new seedling is sprouting, a shrub is coming into flower, fruit is ripening in the sun, or a butterfly is busy sipping nectar – all reasons to revel in the uniqueness of each new gardening day.

Every year, the four of us here at Savvy Gardening look forward to introducing novelty to our own gardens by experimenting with plants we’ve never grown before or techniques we’ve never tried. Today we’d like to introduce you to some of the fresh, new things we are looking forward to trying in our gardens this year.

Firecracker vine

Firecracker vine

What Jessica is planting
I have two new plants that I plan to include in my gardening palette this season, and while neither of them are new to the market, they will both be “firsts” in my landscape.

‘Axminster Gold’ Comfrey (Symphytum ‘Axminster Gold’): 
I’m crazy about this comfrey because its striking gold and yellow leaves left me breathless the first time I spotted them in a public garden in Virginia. Another positive trait is the plant’s ability to perform well in both sun and shade. Plus, the honeybees adore the small, bell-shaped flowers!

Firecracker vine (Mina lobata, syn. Ipomoea lobata): I’m looking forward to growing this annual vine, also called Spanish flag, on a wooden tudor in my vegetable garden. A member of the morning glory family, it reaches about 15 feet in height. The flower stalks are about six- to eight-inches long, with new flowers produced at the tip. While in bud, the flowers are deep crimson, then as they mature, they fade from red to orange to yellow to cream, with all colors appearing at the same time on any given plant. Cool stuff!

What Niki is planting
Aloha Mix’ Nasturtiums (shown in the main image): When it comes to adding edible colour to my veggie garden, nasturtiums are my go-to plant. They’re super easy to grow, crazy vigorous, attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and are cavity-inducing eye candy! I’m always on the hunt for new shades, with the deep hued ‘Black Velvet’ and boldly splotched ‘Vanilla Berry’ among my favourites. This year, I’ve got a packet of Hummingbird Nasturtiums ‘Aloha Mix’ in my dirt-stained hands, a new blend from Renee’s Garden that includes tropical shades of yellow, apricot, cream and rose. The compact plants form tidy mounds – not like the out-of-control, take-over-the-world climbing types – and they will bloom from early summer ‘til frost. Sweet!

‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ Rugosa Rose: Confession – I have so much work to do to my ornamental garden, but I’m hoping this is the year that I finally tackle those unsightly areas (the entire yard). I’ve been very inspired by Jessica and as I choose plants for my landscape, I keep pollinators in mind. Yet, because my yard is subject to daily deer, slugs and goutweed, I also want garden grunts – plants that can take a licking, but keep on ticking. In my backyard, there is a large, flat area planted with a mixture of lawn and clover. Along the back, it’s a blank slate and I’ve got a hankering for a rose hedge. Not fussy tea roses (hey, I live in Canada!), but the hardy, laugh-in-the-face-of-winter type of roses. Years ago, in a different garden, I planted two ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ rugosa roses and they were delightful. So now I’m thinking that a 20- to 30-foot hedge of these ruggedly tough (zone 2!) shrubs that bear highly fragrant , semi-doubled, clear white blooms might be perfect.

What Tara is planting
Each year when I start my seeds, I always focus on the food. The blooms I buy at the garden centre. But I’ve decided to try growing a few annuals and perennials of my own. Some will go into my trial garden until they are big enough to show off in a more permanent spot. This is what I’ve planted from seed:

Fragrant Dianthus Lace Perfume: I’m excited to see how the frilly blooms will (eventually) look in a vase.

Fragrant Heirloom Chocolate Daisy: Will the blooms really smell like chocolate? Only time will tell!

German chamomile: I planted these so I can brew my own tea. But I’ll use Niki’s experience as a cautionary tale!

Zinnia Persian Carpet and Zinnia Zahara Starlight Rose: After the success of my Pastel Dreams zinnias from last year, I’ve decided to plant these two lovelies.

Spanish Brocade marigolds: To be used as natural pest control near my veggie garden!

(main image courtesy of Renee’s Garden)

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