The National Garden Bureau has announced several new varieties of flowers and vegetables for next season.
Let's take a brief look at some of these new introductions to our gardens. Most of the new varieties are hardy to northeast Ohio, however, some are annuals that we love to plant in between our perennial flowers and along our garden paths for brilliant summer blooms. New varieties for next year are all about color.
A new variety of Achillea (yarrow) called "Flowerburst Red Shades" is a blend of mostly red blossoms that also range from orange to purple. These plants have a slight fragrance.
Sweet Alyssum, a common bedding plant that is compact enough for front border edges and rock gardens, is one of the spring's earliest blooms. This plant is treated as an annual in our area, but is so colorful and easy to grow that few people can resist adding it to the garden. "Allure Mix" is a series of seven new shades and one mixed packet that are promised to bloom all at the same time. The seven new colors are bronze, deep purple, lavender, lemon yellow, pink, rose and white and the mixed packet is a variety of pastel shades.
I'm excited but skeptical about the new Dianthus (common name, "pinks"), that is being introduced called "Diana Blueberry." Touted as being the first blue Dianthus Chinensis, the variety is advertised as having 13 varying shades. The reason I am skeptical is because there are few true blue flowers in nature. Growers generally advertise as blue when in reality, the flowers are varying shades of lavender and purple. But perhaps blue is in the eye of the beholder. Test trials of "Diana Blueberry" from the University of Georgia's test gardens gave this plant a 3.75 rating at the end of the season. According to the UGA rating system, the highest rating is 5 indicating excellence and the lowest rating is 1, indicating almost dead. With a test rating of better than average, I would likely put "Diana Blueberry" in my garden, but I doubt I would call it blue.
I am always fascinated by the never-ending shades of Heuchera (common name, Coral Bells), that are developed each year and next season will be no exception. A variety will be available for purchase called "Melting Fire." Notable for its foliage rather than flowers, this particular Heuchera is advertised as having serrated leaf edges with ruffled margins that turn reddish burgundy in high light.
I am a Heuchera fan (my favorite is "Marmalade"), and I always try to put a few new varieties in my garden each year. Our hardiness zone 5 is the far edge this plant's limit, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to mulch the crown of this plant in winter months.
Morning glories (Ipomoea) have an interesting history and I won't go into it here other than to say hybridizers are always looking for new colors for this popular garden vine. A variety recently introduced, and I say recently because you may have already seen seed packets for this one, is called "Flying Saucers."
"Flying Saucers" is described as a mix of blue, white and a bicolor patterned with stripes or stars. While this description makes the flowers sound like a poor imitation of a flag, when stars are mentioned on a morning hlory, growers are referring to the center ring inside the blossom. Personally, I'm wondering if this mix isn't just a combination of "Heavenly Blue" and white with a bicolor thrown in for good measure.
Personally, I plan to look for an heirloom variety called "Sunrise Serenade" for my 2009 garden. This variety, once thought to be lost, was recently brought back into circulation. It has brilliant red blossoms with ruffled edges. If you can't find seeds in your garden centers, they are available online from various sources by typing the plant name and variety in your Web browser.
One last new variety that looked interesting to me was rudbeckia "Cherry Brandy." Rudbeckia, as most people are aware, is black-eyed Susan. This plant has enjoyed a renewed interest in the past 10 years and new cultivars are being introduced nearly every year to the delight of gardeners everywhere. "Cherry Brandy" is described as being the first red-flowered rudbeckia grown from seed. It produces 24-inch tall, bushy plants and is best displayed in large masses throughout the garden.
Flowers aren't the only new introductions from the National Garden Bureau. Vegetables are on the public watch list as well, and next week I'll be discussing what's new for next year's garden in that arena. Keep on reading.
Evanoff is a Master Gardener with The Ohio State University Extension of Trumbull County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.