Top 9 for 2009

Why is it that, on this date every year, time always seems to have flown by? Looking back at calendar entries and scrolling through pictures I can start to recall interminable weeks of rain and quite a few endlessly beautiful and eventful days. But it’s only when I think about all of the changes in the gardens that it really starts to feel like a very full year has passed. To celebrate 2009 here are 9 of my favorite plants that were, in one way or another, new this year (or if you’re reading this tomorrow, they were new last year). In alphabetical order:

Agave americana This plant was not new to us but planting it in the garden was. And despite the excessively rainy start to the summer, it thrived. As a matter of fact, it was so happy planted in the ground that Gail and I had to ask Fred and Dan – two very strong men – to dig it up in October and pot it into the most enormous container they could find. By the looks of the before and after, it must have nearly doubled in size.

Rockettes planting The Potager (Agave placed for planting in the center)agave 12-17-09

Red peacock kale (Brassica) This about as ornamental as a vegetable can get, I think. It stood a good 2′ tall and was covered in blue and purple rosette frills by the end of the season (I wish I had pictures of the whole plant but as you see, the “flowers” were what captivated me.) It was tasty too! And by some miracle, the aphids and cabbage moths didn’t love it as much as I did. Close second in the ornamental veg category was Deadon Hybrid cabbage which would have been even more beautiful if the bunnies, slugs and moths didn’t love it too. Sweet and delicious!

Peacock Red flowering kaleRed Peacock kale more beautiful than ever

Coreopsis ‘Sienna Sunset’ has that perfect soft orange color that just gets me. And it bloomed from the day we planted it in June until sometime in September or October without ever crying out to be deadheaded as some coreopsis do. (Our volunteers cringe to recall the punishment of  ‘Moonbeam’.) Fingers crossed that it survives the winter…

Coreopsis 'Sienna Sunset' and Eryngium

Dahlia ‘Pale Tiger’ and ‘Teesbrooke Redeye’ Gail and I were both really impressed with the dahlias we bought as cuttings from Corralitos Gardens and if I had to choose favorites, these would be them. (Today anyway. Ask me again tomorrow. ‘Florinoor’ was gorgeous too…)

Dahlia 'Pale Tiger' Dahlia 'Teesbrooke Redeye'

Echinacea ‘Green Envy’ What can I say? I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I love love love it!

Echinacea 'Green Envy' 7-30-09

Gladiolus There’s not much new about glads – they’re about as old-fashioned as you can get. But it’s been a long time since we last used them, and I just loved seeing something come up so fresh and new in the late July heat. Two of the varieties that we planted in the North Garden were ‘Green Jade’ and ‘The Blues’.

Gladiolus 'Green Star', Phlox 'Natural Feelings', Geranium 'Rozanne'Gladiolus 'Blues' and Hydrangea 'Limelight'

Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ is a seed annual we purchased from Burpee because it was “NEW” and “Unlike any Globe Amaranth ever seen!” And it was, without a doubt, a winner. It grew to about 3 and a half feet, was really nicely branched and chockablock full of blooms all summer. The flowers were an indeterminate shade between pink and purple (difficult to photograph) and studded by yellow-orange tips – very cool.

Gomphrena 'Fireworks'

Rhus typhina ‘Tigereye Bailtiger’ – Tiger eye sumac I’m not sure how I missed this plant when it lived in the nursery bed but it got my full attention this year. Fred and Dan planted it for us on the shady edge of the “kid’s bed” where the foliage stayed a lovely chartruese rather than shifting to the citronella-yellow it wants to be. And then the fall color knocked us over. It might run like sumacs do, but somehow I don’t think it will be hard to find homes for any babies.

The tiger eye sumac at the top left of the "kid's bed" - in AugustTiger eye sumac's flash-orange fall color and Fuchsia triphylla 'Gartenmeister'

Rubus odoratus – Flowering raspberry or eastern thimbleberry This is another plant that wasn’t on my radar at all until a visiting editor from Fine Gardening magazine asked me about it. To find out why I think it’s a great plant, check out the Plant Picks section of the latest issue!

Rubus odoratus - flowering raspberry/eastern thimbleberry

Out with the old? Not always. In with the new? You bet. Happy New Year!!