The National Green Centre is still accepting new plant entries into the Sweet Melissa Fashion Show: the trendiest plants in horticulture.
The fashion show puts new plants on the runway with music, lights, professional models and an emcee. The show also benefits the Sweet Melissa Fund, which helps lung transplant patients and their families.
Early entries into the show include:
• Ball Horticultural Company’s Petunia Black Velvet
• Bailey Nurseries’ Bella Anna, new pink mophead Hydrangea arborescens (developed by Dr. Michael Dirr and Plant Introductions, Inc.)
• Greenleaf Nursery Company’s The Rising SunTM Red Bud / developed by Jackson Nursery
• A Novalis Plants that Work Plant / Willoway Nurseries, Inc.
• LCN Selections Eternal GoldTM Juniper/ Introduced by Novalis Genetics/ Lake County New Plants LLC
• Merlot red bud / grown by Honey Creek Nursery / developed by Dr. Dennis Werner, NCSU / introduced by PlantHaven
• Ruby Falls red bud / grown by Honey Creek Nursery / developed by Dr. Dennis Werner, NCSU / introduced by PlantHaven
• Scarlet Collonade Oak / grown by Cedar Valley Nurseries / developed by Willet Wandell / introduced by Discov-Tree Partners
• Ball Horticultural Company’s Plentifall Pansy
For more information on how to register your new plant for the show in January, visit the National Green Centre's website: http://www.nationalgreencentre.org/2011_FashionShow_exh.vp.html or email email@example.com.
Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'
There are so many things to admire about Kerria japonica that set it apart from the usual suspects seen in the garden. It’s a gorgeous bloomer in shade, with long-lasting flowers, making it a champion in difficult shady spots that warrant a large shrub, as well as in areas of the garden needing a graceful focal point. The evergreen stems provide winter interest, and are a great contrast against both snow and dark-colored structures. The plant is easy-going and low-maintenance, drought-resistant, blooms for a long period of time, and will grow nearly anywhere.
K. japonica is a small ornamental shrub that typically matures at 5-8 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Its arching or weeping clump growth habit becomes rounded by age. The Kelly-green branches are slender and smooth, and retain their color throughout the winter. This is a great plant for winter interest, especially against a background of snow, as well as against red bricks or dark siding.
The foliage emerges a bright medium-green color in early spring, changing to a darker green as the season progresses. The alternating leaves are ovate, and have doubly serrated edges, making a nice contrast to large-leafed or lanceolate plants like hostas, iris, lilies, and daffodils. The leaves hold late into the fall, and drop leaving the green stems behind.
Kerria is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9, and grows well in both part shade and full shade. In full sun, the plant grows well and purportedly flowers more, but the flowers bleach to a paler yellow. It grows best in a moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil, but will tolerate poor soils and an assortment of soil pHs. Kerria is both heat and drought tolerant. It has few disease or pest problems — leaf spot and twig blight are reported as potential problems.
Kerria flowers make this plant shine. The most commonly available cultivar, ‘Pleniflora’ (also known as ‘Flora Pleno’), bears dozens of 1½-inch golden-yellow double flowers that resemble small pompon-shaped mums. Each flower lasts for two to three weeks. Although the primary bloom period is spring, Kerria flowers sporadically throughout the summer, and then puts on a good show once again in late August or early September.
— University of Illinois Extension, Cook County
'Jackie in Pink' Photo: Beth Willis
Ornamental mullein, the common name for a number of Verbascum hybrids, can be a charming addition to the garden. Although most are either biennials or short-lived perennials, they are remarkably low-maintenance plants with a long season of bloom if you keep just a few things in mind while siting them.
Ornamental mullein has an upright vertical form, with tall flower spikes rising from a basal rosette of woolly gray-green leaves. Available in colors ranging from pure white to pinks, peaches, yellows and lavenders, there is a color to fit just about any garden. Spikes bloom from top to bottom with large, flat five-petaled flowers. Fuzzy purple or dark-pink stamens (in most varieties) add to the appeal. Blooming begins in late spring and continues through late summer or even into autumn depending on the variety.
In the landscape
Ornamental mullein thrives in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8. It is susceptible to root rot if drainage is not adequate, but it is not picky about soil type as long as it’s given good drainage. It’s well suited to the sandy or rocky soils found in rock gardens. It also works well in borders or cottage gardens with more fertile soils. It has no serious disease or pest problems and has few maintenance needs, but deadheading spent flower spikes can help prolong blooming. Ornamental mullein can be propagated by root cuttings from late winter to early spring.
In the last decade, a number of ornamental hybrid cultivars have been introduced. These hybrids offer new flower colors and color combinations, shorter plant sizes and larger blooms. ‘Southern Charm,’ a soothing blend of creamy yellows, lavenders and peachy pinks, grows to a height of 2-2½ feet in the garden. ‘Caribbean Crush’ can grow up to 4 feet high and boasts a bright blend of tropical yellows, oranges and lavenders on individual plants. ‘Jackie in Pink’ and ‘Jackie in Yellow’ are compact varieties (heights to 18 inches) that will even work well in containers. ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Wedding Candles,’ with profuse blooms of yellow and white respectively, will reach a height of 3-3½ feet in the garden.
— Beth Willis, University of Tennessee Gardens
The largest green wall in North America, provided by GSky Plant Systems, was unveiled Oct. 9 at the world-renowned Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. The flagship of Longwood’s redesigned East Conservatory Plaza wing is the 4,072 square-foot green wall, 70-percent larger than the previous green-wall record holder, PNC Bank, Pittsburgh.
The green wall at Longwood Gardens is unprecedented in size, but its long-lasting plant support system makes it one of the most advanced green walls in the world. The wall’s 47,000 plants provide as much oxygen as 90 fourteen foot-tall trees and will clean over 15,500 lbs of dust and harmful toxins per year.
The backbone of Longwood Garden’s wall is GSky’s Green Wall Panel System, which features advanced technologies that allow plants to thrive in atypical environments. The green wall was installed as collaboration with Ambius, the world’s largest interior landscaper.
Rather than soil, GSky’s 3,595 panel-based system uses a long-lasting structural growth medium. The 3,800 ft vertical drip irrigation system uses minimal water levels, conserving 90-percent more water than traditional irrigation systems. Similar to how an alarm system company works, a computerized monitoring system tracks irrigation activity and water usage 24/7. Given how these features work together, if maintained properly, the “green wall will last a very long time, as long as the building itself,” says GSky president Chad Sichello.
“The green wall is an extraordinary addition to Longwood,” said Longwood Gardens director Paul Redman. “The size and beauty of the green wall will amaze our guests as well as advance our continuing commitment to sound environmental practices.”