Top Performers of 2014 – What were yours?

Ok, Ok…I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me but it’s been a busy fall so far! A brand new nephew has arrived, a new deck was built (bigger and better for, you know, more plants!!) and of course lots of gardening! So fall is now in full swing which means dismantling of summer containers and digging out all those plants you want to save!  You know me, a self admitted plantaholic, so it’s quite a process for me to winterize, dig out and repot everything I’m trying to save from Jack Frost – which was late this year thank goodness.  I was trying to streamline and not bring in SO much this year…but that didn’t work out too well for me.  Anyway, that’s another post for another time!  Right now I want to share my favorite plants from this year and hear about yours!  Below are just a few of my favorite containers from this summer…


In this pot: Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’, Surfinia Heavenly Blue Petunia, Petunia ‘Suncatcher Pink Lemonade’, ‘Dreams Appleblossom’ Petunia, Lysimachia hybrid ‘Sundew Springs’, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Lantana camera ‘Samantha’


In the Blue pot: Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Mrs. Pollock’ Brocade Geranium,
Gazania rigens ‘Daybreak Mix’, Petunia ‘Potunia Papaya’, Lysimachia procumbens ‘Outback Sunset’
In the Black pot: Abutilon ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Heucherella ‘Brass Lantern,
Cuphea hybrid ‘David Verity’, Solenostemon scuttelarriodes ‘Lava Rose’ Coleus, Petunia ‘Crazytunia Sparky’


In this pot: Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Copperhead’, Abutilon pictum ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Pentas lanceolata ‘Graffiti Red Lace’, Dorotheanthus bellidiformis ‘Mesbicla’ Mezoo Trailing Red, Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Saturn’ Coleus


In this pot: Cassia didymobotrya Fresen Popcorn Cassia
(blooms all summer and foliage actually smells like popcorn!!!),
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (super for attracting hummingbirds!),
Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Inferno’, Surfinia Variegated Baby Purple Petunia,
Portulaca Cupcake ‘Peachy’, Crossandra infundibuliformis ‘Orange Marmalade’

And finally, my fall container on my front porch still going strong!!!


In this pot: Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jester’ Ornamental Millet, Nemesia ‘Sunsatia Lemon’,
Celosia caracus ‘Intenz’, Spilanthes oleracea ‘Peek-a-boo’,
Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ Sweet Potato Vine

So, who were your superstars this year?

Where the Wild Things Grow


How does your garden grow? Do you grow the same old plants every year? Or do you like to change it up? Do you grow the same things as your neighbors? Or do you keep them guessing?

I definitely have my old stand-by’s that I like to grow every year, rarely do I replicate a planter combo from a previous year (except I did do one this year!! – You can see last year’s on a previous post “Who were your top performers” from September 2013 – Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’, Stained Glass Works Coleus Burgundy Wedding Train, Purslane Rio Scarlet) – I usually like to try new combos and throw some different plants in the mix.  I also love creating combos that also include a few plants that you just don’t see everyday – and of course I have my favorites in this category too, but this year I’ve really been trying some new things that I’m wasn’t familiar with until recently.

The photo banner above includes some of my absolute favorites. Typically grown for their AWESOME foliage, Acalypha adds fantastic texture to your container or landscape and is a great flower alternative. From left to right: Acalypha ‘Jungle Cloak’, Acalypha Tiki ‘Tropical Tempest’, Acalypha ‘Bronze Pink’, Acalypha ‘Kilauea’ (top right), Acalypha Tiki ‘Peach Whirl’ (bottom right). The following three photos are from my trip to Hawaii this past winter…it was amazing to see them grown as hedges in peoples front yard, and the middle photo was at the Botanical Gardens:

Another favorite of mine that I grow every year is Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’, otherwise known as Tapioca. Yes, I said Tapioca, as in the pudding! Native to Brazil, this is another one with great foliage interest and can get very tall. Just remember when using it in your containers or landscape that even though it can look small and compact in spring, it’s gonna grow up–and you’ll definitely be impressed.

Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’

The combo above I made last year at the garden center – Manihot paired with
Flowering Vinca and Acalypha Tiki ‘Tropical Tempest’.


Iresine ‘Blazin Rose’ is a bold “thriller” to any container garden. Can take full sun to partial shade – it’s a show-stopper all season long.


Amaranthus tricolor ‘perfecta’, the ultimate hippie plant with that colorful tie-dye foliage! This one also gets pretty tall and likes full sun. I potted this one in a mixed container at the garden center and will share a pic on Instagram and Facebook later this week. Check in to see what I paired it with!


Lonicera nitida ‘Variegated Honeysuckle’. This one is new to me this year and so far I’m loving it more than I ever thought I would! This plant is perfect for your shade garden (but can take partial sun too) either as a mounding border or in your container as a semi-trailer.


Datura meteloides ‘Ballerina Purple’. I’m absolutely so in love with this double purple bloom. It’s fancy and frilly…and oh yeah, fragrant too!!!


Jacobinia – Justicia schavernia ‘Fuzzy Navel’. Check out this showy flower that I know your neighbors won’t have. I love this soft yellow flower – great for attracting hummingbirds!!


Cassia alata and Cassia didymobotrya, a.k.a Popcorn Cassia. Where do I begin with these guys? Cassia alata I grow every year. It’s a great tropical foliage plant that looks superb in mixed containers. This is my first year with the Popcorn Cassia – so cool! This one does bloom and when you rub the foliage it smells JUST like buttered popcorn!!! In the evening the leaves close up on both varieties and then reopen in the sunshine the next day.


Anigozanthos kanga Pink and Yellow. You may have seen these before but they’re super cool nonetheless. They come in a few different colors so there’s something for everyone! This plant makes a great addition to any full sun container and also do well in the landscape in well drained soil. Also works as a great cut flower as well.

These are just a handful of the wild and wonderful things I’m growing this year. What new and unusual plants are you growing?

Aloha!

Some of you may have heard I recently went to Hawaii ~Kauai to be exact~ to visit my oldest and dearest friend (that’s us above!).  We have known each other since we were toddlers…and though we live thousands of miles apart, and have for many, many years, we still manage to stay in touch and pick right back up where we left off every time we see each other.  It was a great trip and perfect timing to get out of the polar vortex in Northern Virginia.

It was all fun times catching up, reminiscing, meeting her friends and co-workers on the island, hiking, beach hopping…and, oh, the PLANTS!!!!  Oh my goodness, the PLANTS!  I pretty much went crazy!!!  Well, yeah, crazy is probably the right word. I saw plants I know and love, plants I’d never heard of before, and plants I’ve only read about.  Coming home with over 2,000 pictures (I’d say at least half of them of plants) it’s hard for me to narrow down what to share with all of you.  But I did it (kind of – I still have a lot of pics here I just HAD to share)…

In this post I’m sharing plants I know–plants I grow every year, plants that I have currently in my “basement greenhouse”, and plants that I have grown in the past – all growing like crazy in Hawaii.  Some of these photos I took at the Botanical Gardens, some I took growing near the ocean, some in the mountains and other higher elevations and some I took in other inland locations.  It was truly amazing for me to see these guys growing big and beautiful outside year-round and how much bigger they can be when they have the chance to really mature year after year.  Check ’em out!


I loved seeing this Nasturtium growing wild! One of my favorite herbs to grow in the summer in Northern Virginia – not hardy here so a real treat for me to see growing everywhere, including up the side of a mountain! This plant, along with the next six you’ll see here I found all growing in the Waimea Canyon area.


I found this beautiful Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) growing on the side of the road. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region this plant is a tender perennial but it was still pretty fun to see it growing randomly:-)


Fuchsia boliviana grows like a shrub in the Waimea Canyon area. I don’t carry this exact variety at the garden center but do get a couple different varieties that are very similar looking to this one.


Ahh, Brugmansia, one of my favorite tropicals. I’ve seen this plant growing in California before, but mostly as an ornamental tree form in peoples front yard. It was great to see this growing wild in the woods of the Waimea Canyon region.


I was excited to see Lantana (an annual that I carry numerous varieties of at the garden center) growing as a large shrub. I typically only get to see this plant growing as an ornamental.


Tibouchina urvilleana – my all time favorite! When I saw this growing along side of a dirt road I yelled “Stop the truck!!”. I HAD to get out and touch it. It’s almost as big as me! I winter over Tibouchina Grandifolia (a similar variety) every year in my basement greenhouse, but mine never gets this big!


Off the beaten path in a little marshy area near Waimea Canyon I came across the biggest Zantedeschia aethiopica, or Calla Lily, I’ve ever seen! The one pictured is one of the smaller ones but there were a number of them blooming and many almost as tall as me!


Okay, another one of my absolute favorites: Acalypha wilkesiana, a.k.a. Copperleaf. I am currently wintering over a couple different varieties of this fantastic tropical in my basement greenhouse. I’m a huge fan of this plant, and in my opinion, totally underused in container gardens and in the landscape in the DC Metropolitan area. In Hawaii this plant is often used as a hedge as seen in this picture at the Botanical Gardens.


Stumbled upon this pretty pink Anthurium. In most areas this is a house plant, MAYBE seeing the outdoors in the summer months. This and the following nine photos were all taken at Allerton Botanical Gardens and McBryde Garden.


This Flowering Vinca was a small shrub in Hawaii! Another annual I carry all summer long at the garden center. Great for full sun and drier conditions.


One of many tropical Hibiscus plants I saw. I particularly liked this double bloom variety. They are like the Azalea of Hawaii – they’re everywhere!


I found this Phalaenopsis Orchid, among many other types of Orchids growing on trees.


Schlumbergera, or Zygocactus is your typical Christmas Cactus! Like Orchids, these guys are also epiphytes – meaning they grow on trees.


Another holiday favorite we carry at the garden center is Amaryllis but of course isn’t hardy during the winter months here in the Mid-Atlantic. Looks like this one just popped up out of nowhere!


Love this one! I have this Ginger growing in my basement greenhouse – for the third year! I scooped up this no name Ginger at the end of the season at the garden center. I believe it’s Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’, a.k.a. Shell Ginger. I’m so in love with the variegated leaves!


This particular ginger is Etlingera elatior, or Torch Ginger. This was one of MANY different gingers that were growing EVERYWHERE!


I just couldn’t get enough of all this Ginger! This is another Torch Ginger, Alpinia purpurata. So beautiful!


Yet another one of my favorites (okay, can they ALL be my favorites?!?!). Cordyline fruticosa, or Ti Plant (pronounced Tee) is another one I have growing in the “greenhouse”. Often used as a houseplant in this region, but I always put mine outside in the summertime when there is no danger of frost.


Stachytarpheta mutabilis, a.k.a. Porterweed, is a super annual here in the Mid-Atlantic area, so I was particularly excited to stumble upon this guy growing wild! I typically found them growing along river sides and in some higher elevations as well. I snapped this shot while hiking along Wailua River.


Bougainvillea is a great tropical that I occasionally carry in the Annuals Department at the Garden Center. This plant grows everywhere in Hawaii – hillsides, mountainsides, beach-sides, the list goes on. It’s so bright and colorful!


I even found it growing in the bed of an old truck!;-) This was in a super cute little artist town called Hanapepe.


And finally, here I am checking out some pretty cool moss while hiking the Hanakapiai Trail. This place is truly breathtaking.