If you loved spending time in Grandma's garden when you were young, you're going to be over the moon this year with the offering from Loblaw. Can you say petunia, dahlia, begonia, geranium?
Well, there's going to be lots of them and they are indeed lovely. Diane Surette of Dummen NA is holding her favourite - a lovely hanging begonia called 'Miss Montreal'. It has lots of bloom and the colour is so elegant. Diane has yet to steer me wrong - the New Guinea Impatiens Petticoat(R) Blue Star was absolutely amazing last year.
The flowers may look like Grandma's but there's a bit of a twist. Sweetunia(TM)Hot Pink Touch. The blooms are smaller than a regular petunia and larger than the wee minis and should do better after a big dump of rain.
Who doesn't want it all? So, here you go: a smaller pot with several different varieties. This is something I hadn't seen before - smaller pots - with a mix of plants - great idea. These 'Confetti Gardens' offer several great fillers that will spill beautifully over the side of your baskets.
These gorgeous dahlias will look marvellous in a sunny spot all summer long. While they're not inexpensive, just think of what Grandma had to do....save the tubers, plant them up early in the year, take cuttings, plant those up too and then wait until mid-August to look like this.
I'm calling this segment - Better Than Plastic!
I despair at the amount of plastic plants out there. I'd prefer someone forgo the plant rather than put one of those "Oh my goodness, look at that it's plastic, it looks so good, you'd never know, it's amazing, you swear it was real!" So for those of you who want something that looks like boxwood, that doesn't cost what boxwood does....here's your new best friend: It's called PC Eugenia Topiary. They cost $34.99. They are tropicals. You can take them inside during the winter. And you will water them and use them again next year. They grow so quickly (hence the amazing price) you will need to trim them to maintain the shape - rather than thinking of this as work, I'd like you to think of it as bonding.
Much bigger pots, much bigger flowers:
Loblaw has always offered good quality roses at an excellent price. Larry Vandemolen of JC Bakker & Sons Nursery Ltd. is pictured here with 'Never Alone' Rose in support of cancer patients and their families. "It is the brainchild of the Canadian Football League Alumni Association and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. Part of every purchase goes to the Never Alone Foundation." It is $14.99/pot. It will provide blossoms throughout the season. If you decide to put it in a pot, Larry suggests that you transfer it to your garage over the winter. The blossoms are not all that fragrant, but the blossoms are really pretty and would look lovely in a bud vase.
It was delightful to meet Frank Ferragine - who is just in charming in person as he is on television. He is featuring Rex begonias here - a great-great-grandmother plant. I'd mentioned to him that if you looked around the room, it was almost as if we'd stepped backwards to 30 years ago with the plant offerings. He told me the challenge was to encourage new young gardeners to get on board. There had to be a guarantee of success. "If you burn the cake, you're not going to by the cake mix again." Kudos to Frank and his colleagues in their quest to provide the equivalent of that cake that will not burn in the flower business.
The man who started it all, Peter Cantley and Evan Elenbaas, President of Walters Gardens discussed the new perennials on offer this year. There are two new Hosta 'Cool as a Cucumber' and 'Island Breeze'. The first has lovely thin strappy green and white leaves that would make a great exclamation point in a garden - the second does everything but twirl - it has green and yellow variegation, red on the stems and on the scapes, substantial slug resistent leaves and is of a medium size.
There's a new Allium 'Millenium' that will bloom in late July/Aug. Evan said it looks good in or out of bloom. There are a couple new Heuchera to shoe-horn into your garden. 'Grape Expectations' distinguishes itself from its tribe by presenting its leaves beautifully and consistently from the centre of the plant to the soil - I've planted it next to some of its kin so it can show them how it's done. The second is one of those other-worldly-red colours 'Fire Alarm'.
So after interviewing as many of the experts as we could, the gong was sounded, and off we went to collect our treasures to trial:
I'm a sucker for anything the colour of Baby Aspirin - so these new Begonias were first on my list after the perennials:
And here they are - home at last - waiting to be planted:
And just a few photos from last year's trial:
One month in the pot - the Rex begonias really took off:
N.B. I fertilize my pots once a week with 15-30-15 fertilizer.
At the front doorstep - the flowering begonia took over:
And by the end of August look how Diane's Petticoat(R) Blue Star took off:
The Rex begonias do have blossoms - you just have to hunt for them:
One of my favourite pots from last year at the end of the summer - 'Unstoppable Upright Fire' (orange) and the utterly spectacular 'Red Threads' Alternanthera to the right:
The adorable Calibrachoa is 'Hula Gold' and the Petunia is 'Blue Jays'.
The wonderful thing about Loblaw is the absolute consistency and excellence of product. Like Grandma and her garden, this quality may be old-fashioned, but it's something I know I can count on every year.