Horticulturalists are always cooking up something new in the plant world, just because they can. You might like garden phlox, but what if it was knee high instead of chest high? They’ve done that. Verbena Bonariensis, a purple annual that’s a tall and airy butterfly magnet is now available in a shortened form as well, (Verbena Lollipop). All these novelties I saw recently at Landscape Ontario’s test garden in Milton where seeds and plants are tried out and showcased once a year for gardening professionals. An amazing array of shapes, textures and colours was on view, and vistors voted on their favourites with little plastic flags.
Black petunias, new varieties of black grasses (Pennisetum Vertigo) and black serrated sweet potato vine (Ipomoea Midnight Lace) all got a thumbs up, although one gardener mentioned that black petunia isn’t really black, but a very dark purple. A soft true yellow petunia, (Suncatcher, Pink Lemonade) with a slight tinge of pink was another innovation.
A soil solarization test was in progress at the trial gardens, meant to discover which works best for organic turf and weed killing, overlaying ground with clear plastic or black. Staffer Denis Flanagan thinks the clear plastic works best. Black plastic kills grass and many weeds by blocking out light, but perennials like dandelions will still try to grow up under it. Tip: Leaving any barrier on the soil surface, (including old carpet or cardboard) for more than one season will be more effective.
Landscape Ontario’s website is well worth a look for any garden enthusiast. Go there to find a garden professional, free garden design tips and plans, or information about careers in horticulture, including apprenticeships.