Winter Container Gardens…How do you do?

Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you have to drop gardening for the season.  There are still so many options for the cool (or cold!) season.  Think about cool season annuals such as ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, and even snap dragons. Perennials such as euphorbia, carex, acorus or evergreen ferns…and of course evergreen shrubs – the opportunities are endless! Below are some of this years containers to get me through the winter. What are you doing to get your gardening fix this winter?


Far Left: Kale Red Bor, Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Snapdragon ‘Liberty Bronze’, Heuchera ‘Black Taffeta’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ – Little Bluestem, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ – Golden Japanese Forest Grass
Far Right: Kale ‘Winter Bor’, Cabbage ‘Pigeon Red’, Carex ‘Evergold’, Euphorbia amygdaloides hybrid ‘Helena’s Blush’, Ivy – Hedra Helix ‘Yellow Ripple’, Pansy ‘Matrix Morpheous’


Variegated Iris, Euphorbia x martinii Spurge ‘Ascot Rainbow’,
Heuchera Little Cutie ‘Blondie’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Orange Jump Up’,
Rumex sanguineus – Red-Veined Dock

Not everything in your containers has to be a plant…below I added some Red Twig Dogwood branches to add some height to this container. Also think about Yellow Twig Dogwood, Birch branches or Curly Willow. These can really add another element to your cool season containers.


Kale ‘Red Bor’, Kale ‘Emperor Red’, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance – Autumn Fern,
Muehlenbeckia axillaris – Creeping Wire Vine, Pansy ‘Cool Wave Mix’,
Pansy ‘Dynamite Wine Flash’, Pansy ‘Delta Premium Blotched Mix’, Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Blue Heaven’,
Variegated Vinca Vine

Don’t forget to jazz up your stoop or patio with a great seasonal container of fragrant cut greens…


For this arrangement I taped oasis floral foam into a mache liner and went to town with a few birch logs and my greens (the Carolina Sapphire being my fave this year!). I dug out some of the soil left in my container garden from fall that finally kicked it, and dropped this arrangement right in. Just be sure to keep it watered for long lasting results.

How are you celebrating the winter gardening season at your house? Share your gardening photos with me on my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/Petalpushin!

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?

Gardening is for the birds…Hummingbirds that is!


Ruby-throated hummingbird.  Photo credit: Alex Pawlukiewicz

We’re still in hummingbird season folks!!!  They’re zipping and zooming around my front and back yard as well as the garden center like crazy! Have you seen them?

In Virginia we have three species: Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Allen’s. The one I see the most here in Northern Virginia is the Ruby-throated.

How do you attract hummingbirds to your garden? Do you have a feeder? Grow various plants that are delicious for them? Me, I do a little of both. In my feeder, I’ve used a store bought mix or a pre-made solution before, but making your own is fun and easy. Just bring one part sugar to four parts water to a boil, let cool and fill ’em up! You can store any extra solution in the fridge for a week.


Above is a shot of one of my hummingbird feeders.

While I use my feeders, I also grow lots of flowers that hummingbirds love. Below are just a few of my favorites…


Hamelia patens ‘African’ – African Firebush
Hummingbirds swarm to this plant on the regular! It prefers full to part sun and is drought tolerant. Many varieties of Hamelia are native to Florida, however, I believe this particular one is native to Africa (hence the variety name). I’m growing this in a pot and bringing it inside this year since it is in no way hardy here in Northern Virginia.


Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea – Porterweed

Stachytarpheta mutabilis – Porterweed
I love these guys!! Hummingbirds go nuts for both varieties. Prefers sun to part-sun conditions and blooms all summer long. I saw these growing wild along river banks in Hawaii…I won’t lie, I went a little crazy;-)


Cuphea llavea ‘Totally Tempted’
Hummingbirds totally dig Cuphea…all varieties!

Cuphea ‘David Verity’
Cupheas thrive in full sun to part shade. They can tolerate some drought but perform best with regular moisture. Some trail, some are upright and tall…they come in all shapes and sizes so the perfect one is out there for you!


Lantana camara ‘Samantha’
This variegated lantana might be my favorite variety. Thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant. Both hummingbirds and butterflies love this fragrant flower!


Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Ok, this tender perennial might be one of my absolute favorite plants ever! (I know I say this a lot, but seriously!!). This is the very first plant I ever grew that I saw hummingbirds swarm to…then I was hooked!


Ruella brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ – Mexican Petunia
Another one of my loves! Blooms constantly, but each bloom lasts only for one day. I saw this growing all over Cape Hatteras, N.C. a few weeks ago. It loves the sun and can tolerate salt and some drought, but can be invasive in warmer climates.


Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’
More heat tolerant than most other fuchsia varieties! A great hummingbird attracter that grows well in partial shade. This upright grower is perfect for containers!!


Streptocarpella saxorum
I absolutely cannot get enough of this plant. I grow it every year in a hanging basket. Perfect for shade/part-shade. I bring it inside for the winter – it makes a great house plant too!


Nicotiana alata
This flowering tobacco plant, given to me by a great friend, really did a number for my hummingbirds this year…and for me! It’s nocturnally fragrant and prefers full sun to part-shade. What a super performer!

There are many other great plants that hummingbirds love – these are just some of my favorites that I grew this year. Now I wanna hear about your flowering experiences with our feathered friends!!!

What’s new for 2015?


Here I am at the OSU Trial Gardens in the middle of this rainbow of color!

So, here we are again, summer of 2014 which means another trip to Columbus, Ohio to meet new friends, see old friends and of course check out the new plants for next year! Here are just SOME of the cool new things I saw for next year…check it out!


Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ from Walters Gardens. Last year the brand new Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ was introduced to us, which is constantly pushing out new plumes in my container garden this summer. Now we have Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ as well as Digiplexis ‘Illumination Raspberry’ to choose from next year!


Petunia Glamouflage Blueberry from Hort Coutoure. Last year we saw Glamouflage Grape which had a brighter, more purple bloom. This year’s introduction features a more muted blue color blossom but still boasting that awesome variegated foliage.


Mimulus Fiesta Marigold (part of the Jelly Bean Series) from Pacific Plug & Liner. I’m super excited to try this new variety. I never have great luck with Mimulus, but this new variety looks to be more upright and maybe a little more sturdy.


Begonia Smitty Red. This was an interesting new Begonia I saw at the OSU Trial Gardens. This will definitely be a fun addition to my container gardens next year!


Spreading Petunia Easy Wave Velour Series: Red, Burgundy and Berry from Ball Seed. I’m usually not a huge fan of Wave Petunias BUT these looked super cool with their velvety looking blooms. I wanted to touch them every time I saw them!


Scaevola Surdiva Variegated Blue from the Suntory Collection. Every year I like Scaevola more and more. It’s a low maintenance trailer that loves full sun and performs all season long. This new variegated variety might add a little more bling to my containers next year!


And because we need MORE petunias! These are just a few of the fun new colors and varieties coming out next spring. From top left going down: Petunia ‘Starlet Salmon’ from Selecta, Petunia ‘Salmon Ray’ from Danziger, Supertunia ‘Black Cherry’ from Proven Winners, Petunia Flashmob ‘Bluerific’ from Ball Seed/Burpee Home Gardens. Middle going down: Perfectunia ‘Orange Morn’ from Westflowers, Petunia Suncatcher ‘Blue Blast’ from Ball Flora, Petunia Hells ‘Fruit Punch’ from Westflowers. Top right going down: Petunia African Sunset from Takii & Co., Ltd., Petunia Cascadias ‘Autumn Mystery’ from Danziger, Petunia Flashmob ‘Pinkceptional’ from Ball Seed/Burpee Home Gardens, Petunia Happy Magic ‘Giant Dijon’ from Cohen.


Geranium Pinto Premium Orange Bicolor and Geranium Pinto Premium Rose Bicolor from Syngenta Goldsmith Seeds. A new twist on an old favorite. Looking delicious – creamcicle and peppermint!!


And of course the new Surfinia Petunia for 2015 from Suntory: SUMO! What a fun introduction!! I’m a fan of the Surfinias – nice trailing habit with just enough volume. From the looks of things in the Trial Gardens at OSU, it seems to be a real performer…shocker!


One of the most exciting developments this year is the introduction of the Bounce and Big Bounce series of New Guinea Impatiens (NGI’s) from Selecta. These guys can grow in more dense shade and are more florific than the current varieties of NGI’s on the market. This should be a more reliable alternative to the regular bedding Impatiens that are still so susceptible to the Impatiens Downy Mildew disease – this has been a major problem here in the Mid Atlantic area, as well as many other areas throughout the country. TL: Bounce Violet, ML: Big Bounce White, LL: Big Bounce Lilac, TR: Big Bounce Red, MR: Bounce Pink, LR: Big Bounce Cherry.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about these (and more!!!) new plants for next spring. Did anyone try any of the new plants for spring of 2014? I’d love to hear your feedback and share my experiences with you too!

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?

Spring is here…or is it?

Wow!  What a spring…or late winter!?  Just when I thought I’d seen it all, this spring has surprised me again!  So unpredictable, this Northern Virginia weather.

I’m curious, with all of this late snow this year and consistently low temperatures, did you do an early spring garden this year?  Of course I couldn’t resist!  I absolutely LOVE cool season annuals.  Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re gonna say – cool season annuals don’t last very long…BUT they pack a huge punch for an early pop of spring color!  And what else are you gonna do to put out some spring color and get your hands dirty after a long winter?!

I didn’t go crazy this year but I did do up some pots for my new front stoop (thanks to a certain talented handy man I know, we now have a beautiful new front stoop and walkway!!).  While I potted my pots way back in mid-March, and at times had to scoot them into the garage because it was just too stinkin’ cold, my house has been the most colorful one on the block!  My veggie garden (below) on the other hand got planted a few weeks later.

Thanks to all the late weather we couldn’t finish the front walk as early as we wanted to.  And in case you missed my “Front Yard Veggie Gardening” post from last summer…I do my veggie gardening in the front yard right next to my front walk!  I have to – my back yard is too shady for that stuff.  So we were a little later than I wanted to get those veggies in but we’ll see how it goes!


Does anyone else have a favorite lettuce? Mine is this cool & tasty heirloom called Flashy Trout Back. They had me at flashy!

Here are just SOME of my favorite spring bloomers:


A beautiful bright orange Ranunculus.


I seriously can’t get enough of these gorgeous colors!


I absolutely ADORE Anemone!!! Especially the doubles!


Senetti, or Pericallis, has lovely daisy-like blooms.


Stock is a great one to add some height to a container or the garden…and it smells sooooo good! This one is called ‘Hot Cakes Mix’.

Here’s what I put together for the front porch this year:


Yellow Ranunculus (the most gorgeous I’ve seen – my grower did such a great job, he
truly knocked my socks off with these!), Stock ‘Hot Cakes Mix’ (fragrant), Nemesia ‘Angelart Raspberry’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


This is what I call my “Antique Pot” this year. It includes Pansy ‘Imperial Antique Shades’,
Antique Ranunculus, Erysimum ‘Poem Lavender’, Nemesia ‘Angelart Almond’


A shot of the group. In the small square pot is Hellebore ‘Penny’s Pink’,
Erysimum canaries, Dianthus sunflor ‘Olivia’, Viola ‘Angel Tiger Eye’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


Orange Ranunculus, Ranunculus ‘Bloomingdale Mix’,
Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Yellow’ (fragrant), Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Orange’ (fragrant),
Senetti, Pansy (variety unknown)


Anemone ‘Pandora’ Double Fuchsia, Anemone ‘Galilee Mix’,
Snapdragon ‘Snapshot Yellow’, Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)




Tell me how you celebrated the arrival of spring. Please feel free to leave comment here or share a pic on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Petalpushin or on Instagram and tag me @Petalpushin. Looking forward to checking out your spring color creations!!!

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.