You just know you're going to have fun at a party, when you arrive to discover a tall European man in a tux and a wall of purple Campanula. The party in question was Loblaw's annual sneak peak luncheon for the Garden edition of the President's Choice products - and the gentleman in the finery owns and operates Gartneriet PKM, a plant breeder specializing Campanula.
This purple gem is called Plant Mee. It can be used as a house plant, or in the garden - it will bloom 3x from spring to fall. It should be hardy to Zone 5 providing it is planted in the garden in spring, rather than fall. The colour is just as magnificent in person as it is in the photo. It took close to 1 million plants to select for this wonderful specimen. It has an excellent rounded form and isn't leggy like many other Campanula - it retails for $4.99.
Here's John Bagnasco of GardenLife Inc. He is standing next to Mighty 'Mato Brandy Wine - one of the new grafted tomatoes. John told me that the advantage of grafted tomatoes is that the more vigorous root stock gives the plant the ability to withstand disease, nematodes, vagaries of weather - hot, dry, wet - and still produce well. (Someone actually asked if they'd be protected from frost.....yes, this question was posed well into the wine service.) It produces more fruit and earlier as well.
Important to note -
1. Plant just to the graft line - not above like we'd do for regular tomatoes
2. John calls it the 'goldfish' plant. If you're a container gardener, it will grow as big as the pot it is in.
3. Don't use Miracle Grow, unless you want to harvest your tomatoes on top of your garage. Just regular compost and organic fertilizer - a more sensible approach to growing vegetables anyway.
We were given 3 samples to try - am so keen to get them in the ground to see what they do.
One of my favourite things is seeing what the new perennials are going to be. I was delighted to see Veronique of Viva Flora (formerly of Sheridan). She has a real eye for what makes a plant a good one and I've been delighted with some of her suggestions that I'd planted when she was working for Sheridan. She's holding Hosta 'Designer Genes' which features chartreuse leaves, tall form and beautiful red stems.
Heuchera 'Amber Lady' is a lovely selection that does best with a good amount of sunshine. It starts the spring season with bright orange leaves and offers a good bronze coral red throughout the rest of the season.
Phlox paniculata 'Glamour Girl' will be offered in very limited numbers - but if you can find it.....grab it! It is disease resistant - has great pink/red pink flowers, and before the blossoms open the stems are black - hence the 'Glamour' in the name.
And just because their aren't enough Hosta in the world, here's one more Hosta 'Rainforest Sunrise' that was Hosta of the year. Thick leaves, good colour, slow grower.
And the other plant that we don't have enough of - Echinacea - but if Veronique says it's good - I believe her, and it has the sweetest name 'Butterfly Kisses'. Smaller, it is good in containers and if you deadhead, will continue to bloom throughout the summer.
Mindful that more gardeners are gardening in smaller areas, there are several 'mini' perennials like this 'Burgundy Bunny' Pennisetum.
This is Brad Smith, Asheville NC who represents Sakata. He joined us at our lunch table. With the problems we've been having with Impatiens we're all looking for something to plant instead. These SunPatiens handle sun and shade equally well and are a really excellent low maintenance plant. Aside from SunPatients he also had some Mecardonia 'Magic CarpetTM Yellow' to show us. While I've seen Mecardonia planted in a few gardens, it still is relatively new to us.
This is what it looks like in the pot - not so special......
But, if you take a leap of faith - this is what you'll get (and apologies all around - this photo was taken last year at the trial garden at Landscape Ontario in a semi-shaded location - and you'll note that these are not SunPatients, nor are the Mecardonia the right variety - but...... look at how wonderful they look together and see how bright and sunny the Mecardonia are in the garden):
This is Sean Valk from Sygentia. He has brought to Loblaw this year two new Verbena - Lanai Twister Purple and Red.
Such a pretty plant - I'm thinking purple for my patio planters!
Loblaw always has such lovely dahlias - this year the new dahlia is, and stand back, it has quite a handle - Dahlinova Hypnotica Tequila Sunrise Dahlia. Not only is it beautiful, as Jody says, it's completely on trend - it's the year of the two-coloured flower!
There's quite an extensive tropical selection, but this was the standout - a Shrimp Braid plant - that will look like this for the whole summer. And at $29.99, it's an elegant and economical way to make your patio gorgeous.
And, last but not least, I must show you the samples I got that will be gracing my garden this season:
I can hardly wait to get them in the ground to tell you how they do!