Top of the Pots 2013
With a new growing season not far away, we look back at some of the plants most in demand during 2013 by our customers. Almost all of these plants were grown here at Green Pastures and it’s really great to see such hunger for newer and more innovative varieties.
Petunia Queen Bee
Each year sees a new plant arrive that we could never grow enough of and this year it was Petunia Queen Bee. The striking combination of yellow and purple that’s so dark its virtually black really turns heads and it literally had our customers swarming over them like bees around honey! Its bushy, but not quite trailing habit, lends itself perfectly as a hanging basket plant or for growing in containers. Petunia Queen Bee’s unique combination lends itself to creating some very striking and exciting displays, particularly when partnered with gold, copper and very dark leaved Heucheras. A highly popular plant for combining with Queen Bee was Petunia Black Satin, which as the name suggests fits into this type of planting scheme perfectly.
Petunia Peppy Purple
Although there’s nothing terribly new about stripey petunias, such contrasting stripes on a hanging basket variety are not so common. Peppy Purple is typical of a vastly expanding group of petunias that most of the gardening public tend is generally unaware of. Somewhere between the traditional bedding petunia and the vigorously spreading surfinia type, the growing number of mounding and spreading petunias are perfect for growing in containers and hanging baskets where something just a little more compact is required. Like most petunias of this type, the Peppy Series is raised from cuttings and is available in a range of different colours that contrast with white stripes.
Dark Leaved Dahlias
In a year when plants with such contrasting colours appeared to so popular, it’s no surprise to find the dark leaved Dahlias creating such a stir. These are by no means new plants on the scene, and as much as anything we think the extremely favourable growing conditions we were blessed with in June meant that we were able to grow a particular irresistible looking crop. Whilst they look great amongst other plants, they look even better given a little extra space for light and air around them when you’ll find they’ll produce a wonderful fat bushy plant loaded with blooms if you keep on feeding them.
Hardy Perennials are a main stay in almost every garden but they’re still subject to ever evolving trends and fashions. The Echinacea has very much been the plant of the moment for the last couple of years and will judging by what normally happens it should still be for a few more to come. And what we are seeing is now typical of such a “fashionable plant”, when the plant breeders get to work in developing a vast array of mouth-watering variations to fuel the gardeners thirst even more. This summer suddenly saw quite a clutch of new Echinacea’s we’d never seen before and 2014 promises to see even more!
Heucherella Solar Eclipse
Another plant that’s enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in recent years is the Heuchera and plant breeders have been incredibly busy introducing wave after wave of newcomers. But what we have here is a whole new genus that’s been bred by crossing Heuchera with its beautifully coloured foliage with the more floriferous Tiarella. The result is the best of both worlds with the added bonus of a good tolerance of shade, making the Heucherella a perfect solution for problem sites. Its spreading habit makes it perfect for groundcover but also as a container plant too. “Solar Eclipse” is in our view the most stunning of Heucherellas with its contrasting foliage which intensifies with the seasons. Late spring sees the added bonus of a display of white foamy flowers.
“Living” Mixed Leaf Salad Bowls
Salad leaves have fast become a speciality, both in Green Pastures Farm Shop and Plant Centre too. For many months of the year we produce bags of home grown salad leaves for farm shop customers to take home and enjoy, and from this has followed many gardeners wanting to grow their own salad too. Whilst growing salad leaves from seed is easy, finding the most desirable combinations can be difficult and not everyone has the time to spend growing. Our answer is the ready-made “live” salad bowl, a planter filled with “cut and come again” salad leaves which we sell just at the point of its first harvest. Not only will the bowl reward you with an instant super fresh salad, it can be grown and harvested repeatedly for many weeks thereafter.
Little needs to be said about just how appealing the “Butterfly Bush” is to our gardens insect fraternity. Despite being such an enormous attraction the Buddleia has somewhat fallen out of favour over more recent years on account of this large and often neglected shrub being left to swamp our shrinking gardens. That was until the emergence of the “Buzz”, a very compact dwarf series that now even makes the Buddleia a serious contender as a patio plant. Our crop began flowering at the very end of June and was still going strong three months later and just about every time we walked past them they were covered in butterflies and bees. Buddleia Buzz, the Dwarf Butterfly Bush is available in 4 different colours.
Memorable for its striking intense blue blooms, rather than its name, this variety of Gentian Sage is another real eye-catcher. Probably the trickiest plant to grow on this year’s hotlist, it’s never the less got a growing fan club and with just a little patience it will reward you with a very special display. Although it’s a perennial, we do have to regard it more or less as an annual in this part of the world but in a very sheltered and free draining spot you could be lucky. A variety of Salvia patens, you will find others around but this is the most intense colour we’ve found. Try growing a small group in a mixed border, perhaps nestling amongst other perennials that could offer it some support as we do find it a little gangly and brittle. We’ve grown it very successfully as a centre-piece in planted containers where it will grow up through bushier plants. And if you’re wondering about the name, Guanajuato is the name of the city in mexico from where it originates. A clue perhaps to its preference for sunshine and warmth!