Color in the landscape at this time of year can be a rather limited palette. Various shades of white (depending how dirty the snow is) mix with shades of brown and gray. No wonder we look forward to spring when the earth teems forth with life-giving greens and a Crayola box of color. While we wait, it's encouraging to look at the hues that have been chosen as Pantone's colors for 2018.
As a gardener and manager of a garden center, imagine my delight at the color of the year selected by Pantone: ultra violet. Purple has a regal and majestic meaning to it, but ultra violet was chosen to reflect "originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking" according to Pantone VP, Laurie Pressman. "It leans more to blue than red and that speaks to thoughtfulness, a mystical quality, a spiritual quality."
Hmmmm . . . thoughtful, mystical, and spiritual sound great, but what if you just like the color purple? For those of you kindred lovers of all things purple, here is a sampling of new perennials and annuals to add to your garden in spring:
‘Blueberry Ice’ Bougainvillea (shown above) is compact and perfect for small, sunny spaces. The cascading lavender-blue flower-like bracts are offset by its second-best feature - variegated green and white foliage. This tropical will slowly grow 2 to 3 ft. tall and 5 to 6 ft. wide.
‘April Night’ Salvia x sylvestris is a new salvia that blooms a month earlier than its relative ‘May Night’. Its longer bloom time of blue-violet flowers and compact, dense habit make it perfect for the garden or in patio containers. ‘April Night’ is hardy in zones 4-10.
‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon x mexicali is a hummingbird magnet! The tall spikes of grape-colored, nectar-rich flowers bloom throughout summer. This adaptable and versatile Plant Select® winner will reach 3 ft. tall when flowering, 2 to 3 ft. wide, and is hardy in zones 4-7.
Will we see more originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking as the year unfolds? Will ultra violet live up to its expectations? Let’s be positive and hope that it does. At least we know it will in the garden.
Horticulturist and General Manager of Burlington Garden Center
For more 2018 Pantone colors, visit pantone.com .
Every spring we try to offer new varieties of petunias, geraniums, and other annuals. This spring is no exception. Read on as we share which annuals we are excited about this spring.
Cordyline ‘Dancing Cha Cha’
known as a Festival grass, grows 3-4’x3-4’
Digitalis ‘Digiplexis Illumination Raspberry’
a cross between the hardy foxglove and the annual ; full sun to pt shade, 20-23” tall, attracts bees and hummingbirds
'Platinum Blond’ Lavender
full sun, hardy to zone 6, 16-24” tall, attracts pollinators
Calceolaria calynopsis Red (Pocketbook Plant)
early season annual, 12", provide part shade for best performance; also available in yellow
Geranium 'First Yellow'
a true breakthrough, full sun, 15" x 18"
Begonia 'Apricot Shades'
from the Illumination series, cascading habit, 12" x 18", part shade, flowers are edible and have a lemon flavor
Snapdragon 'Candy Showers Deep Purple'
Cascading habit, 8" x 18", perfect for hanging baskets, and is slightly fragrant
Snapdragon 'Candy Showers Yellow'
heavy flowering, cascading, sun or part shade, heat tolerant
Snapdragon 'Snap Daddy Pink'
full sun, heat tolerant, 18-24", good cut flower
Snapdragon 'Snap Daddy Yellow'
full sun, heat tolerant, 18-24", good cut flower
Bacopa ‘MegaCopa Blue’
large flowers, improved heat performance, 4-6”x12-18”, sun
Coleus 'Main Street Oxford St'
cherry red and lime green foliage, 16" tall, part sun/full shade
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'
Upright habit, 16" tall, part sun/full shade
Pennisetum 'Black Stockings'
fountain grass, 3-4' tall, full sun, black flower plumes
New Guinea Impatiens 'Ruffles Peach'
Proven Winner variety, part shade/shade, 10-14"
Duranta erecta 'Golden Edge'
tall foliage annual, does best in full sun, has cascading clusters of light blue tubular flowers
Pentas 'Falling Star'
trailing habit, good for containers, full sun
Petunia 'Crazytunia Cloud Nine'
10-15" x 10-12", upright-mounding habit, full sun, heat tolerant
Scented Geranium 'Cy's Sunburst'
compact, smaller leaves, part sun, lemon scent, good for topiaries
Pennisetum 'Sky Rocket'
full sun, 24-30", Proven Winner, good for containers
4-7'x3', upright annual grass, full sun, Proven Winner
Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Bewitch Green with Envy'
Proven Winner, great accent in containers, 16" x 18-30", sun or shade but better coloring in the sun
Lobularia 'Frosty Knight'
Sweet alyssum, part sun to full sun, heat tolerant, fragrant, 6" tall and trails up to 24"
Impatiens Double 'Fiesta pink Ruffle'
morning sun, afternoon shade, bicolor
Stachys 'Lilac Falls'
hardy to zone 5, 8-12" x 18"-20", full sun, great for hanging baskets are as a ground cover
Celosia "Dragon's Breath'
full sun, likes the heat, 24" x 16"
5-8" x 5-8", cold tolerant
Our focus this spring is 'Renewal' in the garden and what better example of that are ferns unfurling their fronds every spring. Ferns have been a staple in the shade garden for a long time - a very long time. Dr. Oliver Sacks who spent his life hunting for and documenting rare varieties of ferns said the following:
‘Ferns had survived, with little change, for a third of a billion years,'' he notes. ''Other creatures, like dinosaurs, had come and gone, but ferns, seemingly so frail and vulnerable, had survived all the vicissitudes, all the extinctions the earth had known. My sense of a prehistoric world, of immense spans of time, was first stimulated by ferns and fossil ferns.'
Another interesting part of fern history involves Dr. Nathaniel Ward, a surgeon who lived in London in the early 1800's. Dr. Ward was also interested in botany and entomology. Quite by accident, he discovered that although ferns could not survive the polluted London air, they could thrive under glass. So he made the first terrarium in the early 1800’s for his personal fern collection. His discovery made it possible for English explorers to collect species of plants from around the world and ship them back to London. And the first plants to be successfully shipped? Ferns.
So how about you? Do you have a case of pteridomania, also known as fern craziness? We hope you will after reading about the following varieties of ferns.
How to Grow Ferns
In general, ferns prefer moist soil and part shade to full shade.
Ferns are also deer-resistant and rabbit resistant.
Lady in Red (Athyrium)
•Tolerates dry soil as well as full sun in moist soil
• Grows 18-30” tall
Lady Fern (Athyrium felix-femina)
Grows 2-3’ x 2-3’
Ferns pair well with the broad leaves of hostas. In the photo above, Hosta 'Remember Me' and a miniature hosta give a nice contrast with the Lady Fern.
Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)
Grows 18” tall and has silver foliage with hints of burgundy.
Pair the Japanese Painted Fern with the glossy, broad leaves of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), a groundcover for the shade.
Try this great shade combination: (from left to right) dark leaf Heuchera, chartreuse hosta, Epimedium, and Japanese Painted Fern.
Japanese Painted Fern ‘Apple Court’
Fern with crested tips, grows to 12" tall.
Also known as Victorian Lady Fern, 'Dre's Dagger' is sport of Athyrium filix-femina. It is compact at 18" tall and wide and has upright stems.
'Ghost' is a cross between Japanese Painted Fern and the Lady Fern and grows 30” tall.
An interesting combination for part shade: two varieties of Heuchera with 'Ghost' fern and blue blooming Ajuga.
'Godzilla' is a Japanese Painted Fern on steroids! It grows 3' tall and 4-6' wide.
Have fun with 'Godzilla' by pairing it with the large-growing 'Sun King' Spikenard (Arelia cordata shown above).
'Bulblet' Fern (Cystopteris)
Grows 12” tall x 24” wide
It forms small bulblets in late summer that drop to the ground and grow new plants.
Hayscented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)
This native fern grows 2’ x 3’. The fronds release a fragrance reminiscent of fresh mown hay when brushed with a hand, crushed or bruised. As a bonus, the fronds turn yellow in fall.
Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
This dark green fern is called the Christmas fern for two reasons: in some zones it stays green at Christmas time and secondly, the pinnae are shaped like stockings. It grows 2’ tall and because it is native to North America it thrives in dry and moist wooded areas.
Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance')
Grows 18" tall and wide in moist shade.
An elegant lacy fern on black stems, this pretty Himalayan Maidenhair Fern is hardy to zone 4 and grows only 12" tall.
I'll close with a few landscaping ideas with ferns.
- Tracy Hankwitz
Burlington Garden Center
Wake Up the Garden
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Burlington Garden Center
What to do in the garden in March & April to get your garden off to a great start and save time later.
Trees & Shrubs
Happy fall! As we wait for autumn to put on it's magnificent show in full color, I've been contemplating the versatility of a rather common perennial - sedum.
Although found in almost every back yard, upright sedum, also known as border sedum, has so many things going for it. It is easy to grow and it is not demanding. The sedum family in general doesn't need much water or much of your time. It's easy to propagate, and transplants well. It's a staple in the perennial garden, just hanging out rather unassumingly until fall, when it turns from lime green to shades of pink, red, and rust. This year I've begun to notice it more - appreciating it's clean, well-behaved habit in spring, admiring the lime green hue all summer, and enjoying it's transformation as it takes on it's fall color.
I've also been noticing how it goes with just about anything in the garden making it a versatile plant in the landscape. It mixes well with shrubs like this hydrangea above. Even next to the broad leaves of the hosta (even though flawed), it provides a contrasting texture in a part sun/part shade location.
Here at Burlington Garden Center, it's planted with it's typical fall partner - 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass (photo above), but looks attractive all summer when skirted with red-flowering annuals.
I love all the texture in the photo above provided by boxwood, sedum, and another 'Karl Foerster'.
The foundation planting below is a drift of sedum, Miscanthus 'Adagio' ornamental grasses, hardy geranium, and black-eyed susans. Instead of planting just one clump of sedum, several were planted together to balance the other plantings and the wide front porch.
One of my favorite compositions in my yard is in the photo below. I've been watching it all spring, summer, and now fall and am enjoying the changes in color with each season. Conifers, like this weeping blue spruce, is a good match for sedum. 'Coppertina' Ninebark, 'Shenandoah' Switch grass, 'Autumn Leaves' coral bells, and a pot of annuals complete the colorful scene.
Sedum can even stand alone like it does in the very first photo next to the blue chippy bench. It can compliment a planting of coneflowers and daylilies. It plays well with just about any plant in a spot with at least 4-6 hours of sun. If you don't have a clump or two of sedum in your yard, consider adding it to your cart the next time you visit the Burlington Garden Center.
Learn more about the versatility of sedum in 'The Plant Lover's Guide to Sedum' by Brent Horvath. Pick up your copy here at BGC!
BGC Store Manager & Horticulturist
Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about pollinators. Over the last few years, awareness has grown of the important role they play in our daily lives. At the same time, we are seeing a decline in population due to many causes including the misuse of pesticides and loss of habitat.
Bees are the most well-known pollinators with honey bees, bumblebees, and mason bees topping the list. But there are approximately 4,000 different species of native bees that also pollinate our plants. In addition, birds, butterflies, and bats also carry pollen from one plant to another aiding in the pollination of 75-90% of flower and food crops. That calculates to one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat and beverages we drink is thanks to the work of pollinators. Think of that the next time you eat an apple, pepper, squash, or even chocolate. So knowing their importance as well as their struggles, what can we do to help the pollinators?
Enter the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. This nationwide call to action is designed to preserve and create garden spaces, big and small, that help revive the health of pollinators. Several non-profit organizations have formed the National Pollinator Garden Network and have a goal to register one million public and private gardens that support pollinators. You can be one of them! Here’s how:
- Plant a Pollinator Garden. Use plants that provide nectar and pollen. A few that attract pollinators are asters, bee balm, butterfly weed, coneflower, lavender, and yarrow. Native perennials to grow are Joe Pye Weed, Liatris, and Penstemon.
- Provide a water source.
- Sunny areas with wind breaks.
- Establish continuous blooms using perennials supplemented with annual flowers.
- Plant a large area with native perennials and shrubs.
- Minimize pesticide use.
- Register your garden at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org.
From a small planted container on a balcony to a five acre field planted with plants for pollinators, each of us can ‘BEE one in a million’. All you need to get started is a list of pollinating plants and you're on your way!
Horticulturist and Store Manager of Burlington Garden Center
2016 has been declared the Year of the Begonia by the National Garden Bureau. We're so glad! Begonias are one of our favorite annual crops to grow here at BGC and according to our customers, we have the best ones in the area.
There are over 1,700 different species of Begonias. With all the various types of Begonias, there are so many to choose from that it is often hard to decide which one to try. Following is a brief run-down of the different varieties we are growing this spring.
Other than the rather common wax begonias (shown above in those fabulous strawberry jars), Non-stop tuberous begonias are probably most well-known. Non-stop begonias, with their large blooms in vibrant hues, provide a bright punch of color in a shady spot. In addition to the Non-stops, there are new series of tuberous begonias being introduced every year. Newcomers in our greenhouse include 'Pink Halo' and 'Unstoppable' Upright Fire.
Those making a return appearance are 'Miss Montreal', 'Elegance', 'Devotion' (a more pink version of Elegance'), 'Sparks Will Fly' and 'Cherry Bon Bon'. They are lovely in hanging baskets and container gardens.
Looking for a heat tolerant begonia that brings continuous blooms? The boliviensis series looks stunning in a large container or hanging basket. Our favorites are quickly becoming your favorites: 'Santa Cruz Sunset', 'San Francisco', and 'Pink Glow'.
Of course we can't forget the begonias known for their interesting leaves. Rex Begonias have bold patterned foliage that are perfect for adding color and texture to any container. They make wonderful houseplants once their watering needs have been mastered. 'Sophia', 'Gryphon' (shown below with silver foliage), and 'Escargot' are among the Rex Begonias found in our greenhouses this spring.
Another series of hybrid Begonias that thrives all season with continuous blooms is Dragon Wing Begonia which is an AngelWing Begonia. AngelWings are go-to plants that give an outstanding performance in full sun or full shade. 'Dragon Wing Pink' is shown below.
Claiming to be the easiest annual you'll ever grow, we believe it! The BIG series can be grown in full sun, full shade, and everything in between. It's drought tolerant (aka it will be fine if you miss a watering), and like other begonias - no deadheading required. Choose from BIG Rose w/Bronze Leaf, BIG Red w/ Bronze Leaf, and BIG Green Leaf.
Come see all the varieties filling the greenhouse. Bet you can't leave without one.
BGC Store Manager
'I must have flowers, always and always' - Claude Monet
Ok, confession time.
If I could have, I would have been a flower farmer.
Something about growing flowers, cutting flowers, and breathing flowers 24/7 compels and calls.
Maybe it's in my blood - Tracy means 'harvester' and my maiden name, Bauer, means 'farmer'.
Why not farm flowers?
I know it's hard work, but the payoff?
Imagine armfuls of beautiful blossoms arranged into gorgeous, breathtaking bouquets . . .
Who knows, I'm only 47 -
it could still happen.
Until then, I'll be content to grow a few flowers for cutting in my small garden. Following are annuals that make wonderful cut flowers:
GROW FROM SEED: Many cutting annuals are easy to grow from seed, like those pictured above. From top left: 'Sundancer' Sunflower is early blooming, multi-branching and vigorous at 4 ft; 'Singing the Blues' Bouquet Larkspur are tall and graceful in the garden and in the vase; 'Fragrant Ten Week Stock' is the best branching variety with double flowers and a spicy-sweet fragrance; Bottom left: Zinnias - an endless selection available and every garden should have some - so easy to grow; 'Moulin Rouge' Sunflowers grow taller (6') but those rich velvety red flowers are pollenless and a must have for late summer & fall bouquets; 'Peach Passion' Sunflower is another pollen free, multi-branching sunflower standing 3-4'tall in the garden. And fortunately, we have all of them available in seed packets here at BGC.
IN THE GREENHOUSE:
Sometimes it's easier to let others start the growing process. I have my eye on the following cutting annuals growing in the greenhouses here at BGC: Salvias 'Faye Chapel' and 'Black and Bloom' are especially nice; snapdragons, Dahlias, Gaura, and Agastache are a few more among many.
OTHER MUST-HAVES: Dahlias of all kinds, sweet peas, Ranunculus, and Lisianthus. Bulbs planted in the fall make lovely spring bouquets. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and grape hyacinths top the list.
A few great resources . . .
Happy planning and happy planting!
Horticulturist & Store Manager at Burlington Garden Center
and flower farmer wannabe
Watch for Part 2: The Cut Flower Garden - Perennials & Shrubs
Imagine armloads of sweet peas in a palette of watercolors and the intoxicating fragrance filling the room. Mmmmmm, I'm totally wanting to be there in that sweet world. So much so that I was out last night in the dark, prepping the bed and tucking seeds into the earth.
Here's how to grow your own sweet peas:
Seeds can be started indoors but they are easy to sow directly in the garden.
They have a hard seed coat, so a soak in water for 8-10 hours before planting will speed up germination. Or nick the seed coat with a nail clippers.
While they are soaking, head outside to prepare the site.
Choose a sunny spot (a little afternoon shade wouldn't hurt). Sweet peas are heavy feeders so it's important to amend the planting area. Work in compost or well-rotted manure (I used Purple Cow Compost), and a slow-release, natural fertilizer ( Happy Frog's All purpose is a good one). I also add a light dusting of bonemeal to provide an extra boost of phosphorus. Turn all the amendments under and mix well into the soil.
Plan to fertilize the hungry sweet peas weekly, or at least twice a month with fish emulsion or compost tea.
Sweet peas are climbers and will need a sturdy trellis to climb.
Use garden netting or chicken wire between posts. Or try this fun, natural method:
Plant seeds/seedlings in two rows, one on each side of the trellis, 6-8" apart, 1 " deep.
Then watch them grow!
Remember, the more you pick, the more you get!
Prolong blooming by deadheading. Better yet, pick these sweet-smelling beauties to enjoy in a vase.
TIP: for the longest vase-life, pick when there are at least two unopened flowers at the tip of the stem.
- Happy planting!
Horticulturist & BGC Store Manager
Growing in containers is the perfect solution when space or sun is limited or you want to grow something that is easy to maintain. Edibles offer their own visual appeal and can be just as pretty as flowers in containers. Here are a few things to consider:
Container gardening offers endless possibilities when it comes to growing edibles. If you are just starting out, try growing leaf lettuce or herbs in a 14" garden bowl. Experiment and try something new every year. "As the garden grows, so does the gardener." - Anonymous
Welcome to the