Annie Calovich

February 29, 2012

Annie Calovich: About to burst

Good riddance, winter.

Good riddance, winter.

A new version of the garden show is going on at Century II, meteorological spring has started along with March, and daylight saving time kicks in next weekend.

We’re moving on.

And that means it’s time to think about new plants for a new growing season — one that hopefully won’t be as dry and hot as last summer’s, despite the warmish, dryish winter.

The palette for 2012 breaks molds and opens horizons. Rita Arnold of Arnold’s Greenhouse in LeRoy always gives presentations this time of year about plants that are new to her nursery, including presentations Saturday at the new Outdoor Living & Landscape Show that continues through Sunday at Century II. (Rita will speak on new perennials at 2 p.m. and new annuals and vegetables at 3 p.m.) She’s also been speaking to Wichita area garden clubs, and I caught her presentation earlier this year at the Wichita Hosta Society.

Here are some of the many plants she talked about that got me excited. Believe me, it’s just a toe in the ocean; there will be many, many more to discover on our shopping trips all over this spring.


Armeria. Ballerina Red false sea thrift blooms all summer in little red globes.

Buddleia. Ball Horticultural Co. has sterile, non-invasive butterfly bushes that it is calling nectar bushes. The varieties go by the Flutterby name.

Daylily. Primal Scream hemerocallis has 8-inch blooms of tangerine dusted with gold and throated in green.

Echinacea. The boom in new varieties and forms of coneflower continues. Southern Belle is a saturated magenta double that is said to be the longest blooming.

Heuchera. Cajun Fire coral bells changes colors. Delta Dawn has a green leaf colored over with a sunset. Pear Crisp has crisply ruffled leaf that is green in shade.

Hollyhocks. Fiesta Time is a break-through that overwinters; it’s a shorter variety with pink flowers. Spring Celebrities Lemo n is a double ruffled pastel yellow that has shorter stocky stems and should self-sow.

Pennisetum. Desert Plains is a fountain grass that grows to a 4-foot vase and turns red, orange and gold in the fall.

Roses. You can probably picture Ketchup & Mustard, a hybrid tea. Sugar Moon is a white hybrid tea unusual for having a powerful perfume (Weeks Roses calls it cold-creamy). Drift roses are Knock-Out types that are smaller. Eyeconic Lemonade is a breakthrough yellow shrub rose with a magenta-red blotch in the middle.

Sedum. Dazzleberry is a brilliant raspberry-blooming succulent ground cover that “belongs in everyone’s garden,” Rita says.


Calibrachoa. The little Million Bells petunias now come in doubles, though the flowers will be smaller in the heat of summer: MiniFamous Double Amethyst and Double Lemon are a couple of new varieties.

Gomphrena. Fireworks bears striking yellow-stippled pink globes. Second exclamation point: It thrived last summer for the Arnolds with minimal care.

Echeveria. Ruffles has, you guessed it, ruffled leaves, shading from sage green to rosy red, almost like a succulent ornamental cabbage.

Impatiens. New Guineau impatiens for full or part shade, Infinity Electric Coral has an upright growth habit and blooms of coral shot through with hot pink and dotted with a white eye as flowers age.

Petchoa. Petcho-what? This is a combination of calibrachoa and petunia. SuperCal Cherry is a cherry red. Can be planted in the ground or in containers.

Spreading petunia. Shock Wave Coral Crush holds a well-branched blanket of coral flowers.

Supertunias. These petunias are summer survivors. White Russian has antique white flowers dramatized with dark chocolate-plum veins and eyes.

Scaevola. How about the old purple-blue fan flower in yellow? It’s called Suntastic.

Sweet potato vine. Sweet Caroline Raven trails dark purple-black foliage.

Verbena. Lanai Twister Pink has unique coloring: Dark pink petals create a ring in the center white petals.


Cucumber. Summer Top is an early Japanese type that matures in 40 days.

Eggplant. Pot Black carries cute little oval-shaped black eggplants.

Hot pepper. Loco is highly ornamental for containers and adds medium heat to food.

Sweet pepper. Cute Stuff Red bears a heavy yield of a small apple-shaped peppers.

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