Hot Plants for the Spring Garden
Each spring, gardeners flock to local nurseries to learn what new plants are available to add color, texture, fragrance and the “wow” factor to their landscapes. To get advice on some of the must-have plants to look for this year, I talked to some local experts who are just as excited as the gardeners about the new selections.
Robbie Martin, owner of Andy’s Nursery in Fayetteville and Newnan, loves the wild new colors you’ll see in perennials this year. She will have these plants at Andy’s, although she suggests you come early for the best selection. Her recommendations include:
Coral Bells (Heuchera) Prized for its colorful foliage, Heuchera is a partial-shade perennial that will brighten dark spots in the garden and has the added benefit of being heat-resistant and drought-tolerant. The Little Cutie™ Series features mini-plants that are perfect for containers or for “fairy gardens,” a popular new trend in gardening. ‘Blondie’ has mocha leaves with yellow spiky flowers and ‘Sweet Tart’ has vivid lime green foliage with hot pink flowers that attract hummingbirds. The City™ series includes coral bells that are mid-size at 8-12 inches. Look for ‘Vienna,’ with orange leaves and pink flowers and ‘Paprika,’ with cherry coral foliage and white flowers.
Coneflower (Echinacea) Favored by gardeners (and songbirds) everywhere, this cheerful full-sun perennial with raised center is easy to grow, drought-tolerant and wonderful in cut flower arrangements. The Supreme™ series showcases ‘Supreme Cantaloupe,’ a deer-resistant flower the color of a ripe cantaloupe with a brown center and flowers that last all summer. Also check out ‘Supreme Flamingo’ in mixed shades of pink and ‘Southern Belle’ in pink.
Tiffany Jones manages McMahan’s Nursery in Clermont, Georgia, which supplies unusual and hard-to-find plants for Garden*
Hood, an urban garden center in Atlanta. Tiffany has a big list of favorites, but has chosen a tree and shade perennial available at Garden*Hood this spring.
Rising Sun Redbud (Cercis ‘The Rising Sun’) This lovely tree grows to 20’ tall and blooms in early spring with lavender flowers on bare branches. Then the real show begins! New leaves emerge pink, changing to apricot, then gold, and finally chartreuse. This redbud holds up well in full sun and produces a number of flushes of colorful foliage throughout the summer and fall.
Red-stemmed Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum pluriflorum ‘Jinjugi Form’) Bright red stems emerge in spring and are quickly covered in large clusters of pendulous white bells. This clumping perennial grows best in partial shade to shade and is tolerant of dry soils.
Linda Butler is the Greenhouse Department Head at Pike Nursery in Peachtree City. She can’t stop talking about the wonderful new selections customers will enjoy this year. Her favorites include:
Blueberries and Raspberries An exciting introduction in edible gardening is the new BrazelBerries™ Collection of small fruits, perfect for growing in pretty pots on the patio! The foliage is ever-changing in a rainbow of colors throughout the growing season. BrazelBerries™ are easy to grow and only need fertilizing in the spring and a winter pruning to ensure maximum fruit production. Peach Sorbet™ is a compact blueberry that produces fruit in mid-summer with a sweet, tropical flavor. Raspberry Shortcake™ is a dwarf, thornless raspberry with variegated leaves that requires no staking and produces full-size raspberries in mid-summer.
Azaleas Encore® azaleas have been a hit since bursting onto the scene over 15 years ago. These reblooming azaleas are known to be low maintenance, sun tolerant, cold hardy and pest resistant. Four new Encores® are available this year. Autumn Sunburst™ is a compact rebloomer with flowers of coral pink with white ruffled edges that appear off and on from spring through fall. Autumn Jewel™ is a cold hardy azalea that sports pink blooms and purple leaves in winter. Autumn Lily™ is an upright shrub with deep green foliage and white flowers. Autumn Ivory™ is another profuse white bloomer and its compact size makes it perfect for containers.