Purple fountain grass for color and texture

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Purple fountain grass is a popular, fast growing, clumping ornamental grass. It has purple upright foliage with gracefully arching purple plumes summer thru fall. ‘Rubrum’ is especially dramatic when planted in the landscape in clusters or as mass plantings and also makes a versatile container plant either planted alone or in combination with other plants. Its plumes are a favorite for fresh or dried arrangements.

‘Rubrum’ is a warm-season grass and is root hardy to 20 degrees F (Zone 9a+) for short periods. Climate Zones 8 and lower should treat ‘Rubrum’ as an annual. ‘Rubrum’ is easy to grow and easy to maintain and is heat and drought tolerant. Height is 3 to 5 feet with a 2 to 3 foot spread. Partial shade to full sun (plants grown in full sun will have darker foliage color).

A hefty dose of sunshine: Helianthus xmultiflorus ‘Sunshine Daydream’

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This robust native is a bold overachiever in the border, loaded with big double flowers of sunny yellow-gold on clean, dark green foliage from June through August.

Not for the faint of heart or tiny of garden, ‘Sunshine Daydream’ reaches heights of five to six feet and looks wonderful with large grasses or with almost any purple- or red-flowering perennial. It’s hardy in Zones 4 – 8, plenty tough enough for most of North America.

You want more? Okay, how about long flower stems make it a natural for the vase too? And butterflies love it. (http://www.ecgrowers.com/Helianthus-xmultiforus-Sunshine-Daydream-72-p/39907.htm)



Kangaroo paw — a fuzzy little friend

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Spotted the cutest, fuzziest little things during a visit to the garden center today. The pastel “paws” of the kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos) plant caught my eye, and these unusual plants are sure to melt the hardest of winter-weary hearts.

But before you adopt this Australian native, it would be good to know a bit about its culture. Being from Down Under, you’d expect its growing conditions to be a bit specific, and they are. Looks like kangaroo paw, a short-lived perennial, does not tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees, and likes it dry too, with fungus a major threat. Full sun is essential as well.

For many areas this means kangaroo paw might be better suited to life as a houseplant rather than a part of the garden, unless of course you are gardening in Southern California or other arid regions. One part sand to two parts potting soil constitute the recommended growing medium with frequent applications of compost to supply nutrients. In winter, limit irrigation.

Flower colors are many, including rich, deep red, and kangaroo paws make excellent cut flowers or to add to arrangements. For more information on kangaroo paw, visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens web site: http://www.anbg.gov.au/anigozanthos/.

Something new under the sun

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Take a look at some new blooming perennials for the sunny border or bed:

• Anemone hupehensis ‘Pretty Lady Diana’ and ‘Pretty Lady Emily’ are reliable and sturdy performers, offering a big improvement in garden and container performance compared to older, taller varieties. They feature a dwarf habit that’s just 16 inches tall and spread to 24 inches when mature. Showy masses of large 2-inch pink flowers bloom for weeks in autumn. USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. From Mr. Yoshihiro Kanazawa, Japan.

• Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Rivulet’ is a selection from Adrian Bloom. It’s not only prolific, but long flowering, too! Smothered in star-shaped flowers, its low, spreading habit is more compact than Campanula Blue Waterfall. Perfect for a smaller garden and container combos. Height is 6 to 7 inches and width is 10 to 12 inches. USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

• Coreopsis verticillata ‘Sweet Marmalade’ has stunning blooms that open deep orange, then mellow to soft apricot yellow. Flowers bloom on and on June through September in full sun. A sport of Coreopsis ‘Creme Brulee, another popular Blooms variety. USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. Prefers well-drained soils.

• Kniphofia ‘Elvira’ is a showstopper in the garden with single bright orange spikes of thick stems in June to early autumn.A great specimen plant and cut flower that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Height is 30 inches and spread is 14 inches. USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. From Paul Stringer in the UK.

• Verbena ‘Seabrook’s Lavender’ is a vivacious “vervain” that sprouts large flowers aplenty. A low-growing, spreading plant, its blooms put on a show from June until late September. Height is 3 inches, spread is 22 inches. A tender perennial well worth growing even if it’s not hardy in your zone. Discovered by UK gardening journalist and broadcaster Peter Seabrook in his garden.USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to10; AHS Heat Zones 12 to 1.

All are Blooms of Bressingham varieties that are tested for years with leading perennial growers, universities and botanical gardens throughout North America.

Gardening? There’s an app for that

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Description: Garden-Plan-Pro-iPad-web

According to the “Garden Cuttings” newsletter, a new iPad app called Garden Plan Pro makes it possible to design the perfect vegetable garden in the most high-tech way. Garden Plan Pro is the easy way to draw vegetable beds, add plants and create the perfect layout for any space. Using an extensive database of plants and weather stations, it recommends the best planting dates for your area and can send email reminders of when to plant, based on your plans. Whether you plant in traditional rows, raised beds, or using the Square Foot Gardening method, it calculates exactly how many plants can fit into the space you have. Its intelligent features assist with crop rotation and make it simple to plan succession planting month-by-month to maximize your harvest. Garden Plan Pro, a truly ‘ground-breaking’ app, is now available on the Apple AppStore.


A luscious new Ninebark


A favorite shrub of mine, Ninebark has been royally upgraded in the new ‘Amber Jubilee’ (Physocarpus opulifolus) that is fit for a queen with fabulous crown jewel colored foliage in hues of orange, yellow and gold. In fall, the leaves transform to regal red and royal purple.

‘Amber Jubilee’ Ninebark was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, which will be celebrated throughout 2012. A distinctly different Ninebark, Amber Jubilee was developed in Manitoba, Canada. This hardy, easy to grow, subject of the queen can add a majestic look to any garden area.

When planted together in groups, Amber Jubilee provides a beautiful landscape backdrop. Its unique color and all-season interest make it a great feature plant as well.

Full sun

Foliage Color: Yellow, Orange, Green; Fall Foliage: Red and Purple

Height: 5- to 6-feet
Spread: 4-feet
Zone: 2-7

Look for First Editions Amber Jubilee Ninebark, exclusively from Bailey Nurseries, at better garden centers in spring 2012.

So, go plant something!

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A recent post in the online newsletter, “Grower Talks’ Acres Online” reports of an exciting program initiated by the state of Arizona to promote gardening on all levels.  “Plant Something” has now swept into four more states almost overnight.

“The full catchphrase is ‘Don’t Just Stand There, Plant Something,’ and I think it’s excellent, with loads of room to get creative,” says Chris Beytes, Editor and Publisher of “Grower Talks” and “Green Profit.” “The brand new www.plant-something.org splash page lets consumers link to their specific state’s Plant Something website, which can either be an existing site with Plant Something artwork added (as Minnesota has done) or a full Plant Something website (like Massachusetts).

“Probably most pertinent, though, is the promotional material, available from a ‘store’ buried in the website,” Beytes continues. “A state can easily download artwork and modify it. They can also share ideas with the other states. For instance, Idaho has created tall flags for garden centers. Those get shared with the other participating states.”

Who knew there was such a push to help both growers and gardeners as well? Be on the lookout for this program in your area as states, as well as local growers, nurseries and garden centers get in the act. Oh yeah, and go out there and just plant something! 

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