There’s a certain amount of anticipation that goes along with an invitation to a garden event showcasing new plants. You know you’re not coming away from it unscathed, but in the best sort of way. For me, such invitations result in some serious plant lust, the kind that fills my garden brain with intrusive thoughts throughout the day about how I can use all those new plants. Remember, I have a relatively small garden so space is limited. But the upside is that I have all winter to figure it out.
Waiting is the hardest part and what I’m about to show you won’t be available until 2023. I thought it best to save this post until you’d buttoned up Garden 2022. It seems to resonate better when one isn’t consumed by all the plants currently in their keep. This summer, I toured the display gardens at Ball Horticultural, one of the largest, independently owned plant developers in the world and it’s practically in my backyard. West Chicago to be exact and about a 40-minute drive. Their Media Day invitation is one I look forward to every year as I know I’ll leave with plenty of inspiration and the desire to rip up more grass.
It’s hard to believe that a plant can see so many reinventions, but they do. From improved color, longer bloom time to better disease resistance, breeders are constantly upping their game. Some flowers get frillier, while others look the same but have a shorter stature. Basically, there’s something for everyone and that’s wonderfully mindblowing!
My list of must-haves gets longer by the minute. Perhaps after reading this post, yours will too!
Rudbeckia August Series
If I had to pick a favorite, the August Rudbeckia series stole my heart, particularly August Sun and August Forest. Green flowers are like little black dresses, they always look good. As soon as I saw August Forest, I imagined it planted in mass in front of my deep red Munstead Wood rose. It’s a David Austin variety who’s fragrance travels all the way across the street. I love plants that make each other pop and since red and green are complimentary colors on the color wheel, I think it’ll be a winner. The August series is a short (about 15 inches tall), bushy, prolific bloomer hardy to zone 7 so I’ll treat it as an annual. My rose is still blooming and I look forward to this combo in my fall garden.
Jurassic Cherry Spike Rex Begonia
They’re not entirely new, but I had to share this because it may be new to you. Can you believe that foliage? I have this vision of a tropical wonderland on my patio where go big or go home is the name of the game. The Jurassic series of rex begonias fits that mantra. My favorite was Jurassic Cherry Spike and I think it’ll look fabulous in containers next to my Thai giant and Mojito colocasias. There are three leaf sizes in the Jurassic series – Jurassic Megalo, Jurassic and Jurassic Jr. – and all feature exotic colorations on different sized plants.
I have a confession to make. I’ve never grown a single Angelonia but that’s going to change in 2023 after seeing these beauties. The pictures don’t do them justice. Extremely heat tolerant and adaptable, plants in the AngelDance series are upright (about 18″ tall), sturdy and full of flowers well into fall. So if you’re looking for season extenders like me, these are two to consider.
Sedum Little Shine
I dare you not to touch this fluffy ball! Because that’s exactly what I did when I saw this plant. Hardy to zone 6, Sedum Little Shine is about as cute as a plant can be. It’s just as happy spilling over the edge of a container as it is trailing along the front of the border. It’s got the sweetest star-shaped flowers too. I live in zone 5 so this is one I’d overwinter in the basement with my other tender plants.
Sedum Little Shimmer was a close second but didn’t have the helmet-like look of Shine. I loved the creamy white and green variegation and think both would be lovely grown along a flagstone path.
Delphinium Red Lark
As soon as I saw this in the perennial trial beds, I picked up my pace. This had Greek tragedy written all over it, but unlike Odysseus and his sailors, I chose not to plug my ears against its Siren song. Red Lark glows and was especially striking on this overcast day. It’s more coral than it is red and I like that since I find red very difficult to work with in the garden. While a true perennial hardy to zone 5, I was told it’s not long-lived and somehow I’m ok with that. Avoid windy sites and deadhead frequently to enjoy this beauty for as long as she allows.
Verbena Lascar Purple and White
What’s not to love about a sun-loving pollinator magnet that starts flowering early in the season and carries on through autumn? And it’s purple too so I’m totally in. I typically don’t care for bicolor flowers but I feel like I’m turning over a new leaf. This is another plant I spotted from a distance and had to get a closer look. Verbena Purple and White has a mounding habit and would do well spilling over the side of a container or edging a hot, sun-soaked garden. It’s also a 2022 All-America Selections Ornamental winner.
Canna Cannova Bronze Peach
I love cannas, well not all cannas. The orange flowers and stripey leaves of Pretoria has had my heart as well as that of every hummingbird in the garden. But I think I found another love. Canna Cannova Bronze Peach, while not as loud as Pretoria, commands attention with it’s dark moody leaves and soft coral flowers. Bold foliage in a mixed border feels unexpected, especially in a northern garden like mine, and fits in perfectly with that tropical look I so love. It interrupts the monotony of coneflowers, catmints and daylilies we often see woven throughout Midwest gardens. On the taller side at four feet, I’d like to work this into the border around our patio where I can see it from all angles.
Tomato Sun Dipper
Isn’t it amazing that a tomato can be bred for easier dipping? No really. Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s how Sun Dipper came to be. Dipping a little round cherry tomato into your favorite sauce without getting your fingers in there too is no easy feat. The two-inch long fruits come with their own built-in handle, which means you can dip and pop it into your mouth. No double dipping, please.
During my visit, I got to sample them and I can tell you first hand, they’re delicious. The flavor is more acidic than sweet, making it perfect for dipping in a savory sauce like my favorite Green Goddess. These guys are indeterminate so allow plenty of vertical space and prepare to stake. Indeterminates get big.
Now let the 2023 garden planning begin!
Which will you be on the hunt for?