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!

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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!

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!!!

I thought Ohio was going to be lame. I was wrong.

I’m still thinking about my trip to Columbus and how much fun we had there.  I’d never been to Ohio before…ever in my life.  I was kind of expecting it to be a pretty boring city with not much to do.  I was definitely wrong.  I mean if you’re looking for party central nightlife then this is probably not the place for you.  But there were delicious restaurants…I wasn’t disappointed ONCE and I might be the pickiest person you’ll ever meet!  We ate many great meals with different growers, discussing the past season, as well as the upcoming spring, and many of the new plants that are coming out for next year.  FUN!

One of the coolest places we went was the North Market.  It looked like an old warehouse converted into a market area with local independent merchants selling anything from delicious BBQ (which is what we got – the grits rocked!!!) to breads and pastries to ice cream to, well, pretty much anything else you could possibly want!  There was a wine festival going on outside the North Market with jammin’ bands and other vendors selling T-shirts and other hand made items.  Unfortunately we couldn’t attend since we were on official business, but it looked so fun!

Another thing that was super awesome – the Trial Gardens at OSU.  The following is taken from the Trial Gardens website, http://ohiofloriculture.osu.edu/cultivar-trials because I can’t say it any better than they did!:

The cultivar trials, located at Ohio State University’s Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, are conducted each year in order to evaluate ornamental bedding and container plants.  The objective of these trials is to observe the performance of new and recently introduced cultivated plant varieties under environmental conditions typical of central Ohio.

We offer four different trials over the summer:

  • Field Trial – ornamental bedding plants are grown in the ground, in full sun
  • Container Trial – ornamental container plants are grown in plasic containers, in full sun
  • Shade Trial – ornamental bedding & container plants are grown in plastic containers, under a shade structure
  • Hanging Basket Trial – ornamental trailing plants are grown in baskets

It was interesting to see all the different varieties growing next to each other, some I was familiar with and others were totally new to me.  I would LOVE to be part of something like this someday.  I took some snap shots and posted below so you can see how it’s set up.  Pretty cool!  For more information on how these plants are evaluated you can check out https://apps.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/florpublic/.


A friendly visitor!

And the main thing I want to share with you are the city gardens.  I was truly amazed by the beauty throughout the ENTIRE city.  They really took the time to beautify their city in such a classy way.  Everywhere I turned there were gardens.  And not just the regular stuff like you see around here…too often I see people (mostly local businesses) just throwing in a bunch of Wax Begonias or Flowering Vinca and calling it a day.  These folks are using a variety of Coleous, Elephant Ears, Grasses, Snap Dragons, Calibrachoa, Alyssum, Salvia, Impatiens (despite the Downy Mildew problem – although I’m not sure it’s as big of a problem there as it is here in the Mid-Atlantic region), New Guinea Impatiens, various Grasses and Tropicals and SOOOO MUCH MORE!!!  Whether there were gardens and fountains on the properties of businesses, flowers under signs, gorgeous hanging baskets on lamp posts through the city, green roofs on top of bike racks and bus stops or container gardens on the sidewalk in front of EVERY business, everything was perfect…except for one “fancy” restaurant across the street from our hotel…it was the ONLY place I saw that DIDN’T do up their pots.  They still had old spindly pansies from the spring and half dead Dwarf Alberta Spruces .  So we boycotted that one.  Why would we ever want to eat at the only restaurant in town who can’t maintain their containers?  Yep, that’s how we roll.

So check out these pics below of just SOME of the awesome containers and landscapes we saw…


Bike Rack Green Roof


Nice Restaurant Landscape


Excuse my shadow!

Overall we had a fantastic time, stuffed ourselves silly, learned a lot and saw countless exquisite plants and flowers.  What a great trip.  I can’t wait to go back next year!