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Gardening: Save some space for these beauties

Vinca Jams ’n Jellies Blackberry is a stunning new plant introduction for 2012.
Vinca Jams ’n Jellies Blackberry is a stunning new plant introduction for 2012.

Warning: I am going to tempt you with tales of stunning new plants. If your garden beds are full, please avert your eyes.

Once again, plant breeders have been busily producing annuals, perennials and shrubs that are hard to resist. After perusing the 2012 introductions from Proven Winners, All-America Selections and Monrovia Nursery, I’ve found some real beauties. Picking my favorites to share with you was a challenge.

Proven Winners

These folks seek out easy-to-grow plants that bloom profusely and are disease-free – provided they pass their national and international trials with flying colors.

Anyone who loves container gardening with Calibrachoa, or Superbells, will be delighted to see the gorgeous colors available this year. Sweet Tart, Tequila Sunrise, Cherry Star or Grape Punch could easily be the centerpiece of a knockout hanging basket this summer. There are also double-flowered Calibrachoas: Double Ruby, Double Lavender and Double Rose.

Hosta lovers may be drawn to Autumn Frost with its yellow and green variegated foliage. This shade plant only reaches 1 foot in height but is sure to brighten a dark corner of the garden.

How about Red Switch Grass Cheyenne Sky? This is a hardy, sun-loving ornamental grass that provides fall and winter interest and grows to 36 inches high.

For fall color, consider Sedum Maestro. While most gardeners are familiar with Autumn Joy, Maestro features purple foliage and dusty pink flowers. It attracts butterflies and bees, is drought-tolerant and hardy to -35 degrees.

All-America Selections

You’ve probably seen “AAS” on plant tags in the past but what does that mean? All-America Selections is a nonprofit, independent organization that looks at the new plant introductions each year in search of outstanding cultivars.

Independent judges are located throughout the U.S. and Canada and score plants based on attributes like disease-resistance, unusual colors, earlier blooming, higher yields and overall performance.

This year, Vinca Jams ’n Jellies Blackberry is described on the AAS site as “extremely unique, (its) velvety deep purple with white eye flower color will add excitement to summer gardens.” Grown as an annual here, they do best in containers and prefer full sun. This cultivar is drought and heat tolerant.

Another pretty selection is Salvia Summer Jewel Pink, which is a bedding plant winner. Also grown as an annual in our climate, this plant grows 10 to 24 inches in height and features dainty pink flowers that attract hummingbirds. It blooms earlier than other Salvias.

Monrovia Nursery

If you like Rose of Sharon shrubs, Monrovia has introduced four new cultivars with gorgeous blossoms. China Chiffon has large, white flowers with a red eye while Blue Chiffon has blue flowers with a lacy center. Blushing Satin has pale pink petals with a magenta center and Azurri Satin has purple-blue petals with pinkish-red center. Rose of Sharon is deer-resistant, attracts hummingbirds and will grow in full or part sun.

They have also added to their Heatwave collection of annual Salvias which attract butterflies. The new flower colors are bright coral pink, creamy white and lilac.

And last but certainly not least, Bartzella Itoh peony will knock your socks off with its bright yellow, double blossoms. The flowers have a spicy fragrance and make stunning cut flowers.

You should be able to find the above plants at local nurseries.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at her blog at for more gardening information, tips and events.