Gardening With What You Have

Making The Most Of It: 10 New Annuals Make Hard Times Better

Christine Froehlich 03/24/2020 Comments


Right now, we need our gardens more than ever. There's nothing more hopeful than planting, and we all know part of the fun is trying something new. Just before we got the word to stay at home, I managed to get to Good Earth Greenhouse to indulge in a little plant porn. Owner Terri Sauerhafer is the queen of cool plants. "I get excited about stuff other people don't notice," she says. As soon as I entered the greenhouse, Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Bloom' stopped me in my tracks. It's similar to Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue', but it's a more compact version. No flopping, no staking. Yep, I'll take it.


Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Bloom'




Terri Sauefhafer

Good Earth Greenhouse will be open from April 25th-June 15th.

Daily: 10am-6pm,

Sunday: 9-am-3pm

Flower City Days at the Rochester Public Market

May 10, May 17, May 24, May 31, June 7


Below is an up and coming dwarf agastache. Agastache foeniculum 'Kudos Red' - more compact (20" tall) than other varieties and much hardier. I've grown a variety of agastaches because I'm fond of the vivid flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees. I never count on it wintering over in my zone 5 garden, but definitely will try this one.


dwarf agastache
Agastache foeniculum 'Kudos Red'


Ipomoea batatas 'Solar Tower Black' (aka sweet potato vine) is a vining variety Terri grew last year and particularly liked.  "It's a terrific climber that grows mostly upward and will cover a trellis in no time," she reports.


sweet potato vine
Ipomoea batatas 'Solar Tower Black and 'Solar Tower Lime'


I'd like to give 'Solar Tower Black' a shot. I'm hoping it's a little less vigorous than it's mate, 'Solar Tower Lime'. I grew it up a trellis last summer (below photo) with great success but had to prune it often to keep the side growth from taking over. It was worth it for the flashy foliage though.



Ipoemoea Solar tower lime


And speaking of foliage, if you're into flash, Plectranthus amboinicus 'Guacamole' is just the ticket. It's a low growing (18-24") spreader that likes a sunny location. Perfect for perking up a container or any sort of underplanting.


Plectranthus amboinicus 'Guacamole'


How's this for exotic? Coleus 'Marrakesh' (Plectranthus scutellaroides) is a small compact (16"x30") gem. Just perfect for lighting up a shady spot.  Love those markings!


Coleus 'Marrakesh'


I thought I was tired of pelargoniums (geraniums) until I saw a few of these beauties. Pelargonium crispum 'Cy's Sunburst' captivated me.  Forget about flowers - this compact (15-20") cutie is all about the cool variegated foliage and lemony fragrance.


scented geranium
Pelargonium crispum Cy's Sunburst'


Yeah, I had to take one home. Here it is on my windowsill. I can't think of a better geranium to grace a container or a sunny window.





Now really, who wouldn't want a geranium named  'Tall Dark & Handsome'? I'm already won over by that distinctive foliage.


Pelargonium 'Tall Dark & Handsome'


Here it is in flower. It's tall, 36-48" with a narrow upright habit. I think this would be a wow no matter where you planted it.




If you're a fan of trailing geraniums, the one below - Pelargonium peltatum 'Crocodile' is just the thing for a hanging basket or spilling off the edge of a mixed container. Pink flowers with a magenta eye come later, but I'm already sold on those arresting gold veined leaves. Plant it in partial sun or shade.


Pelargonium peltatum 'Crocodile'


Asclepias curassavica 'Monarch's Promise' isn't brand new, but this tropical beauty is a must have. It's a favorite food for the Monarch butterfly. Personally, I'd be happy with foliage alone. 


Asclepias curassavica 'Monarch's Promise'


But wait - it sports tons of splashy orange and red flowers. No wonder hummingirds and monarchs flock to it.   




These are just a sampling of the cool plants on the market this year. The question is - are garden centers going to be open? According to several  business owners I interviewed, the answer is yes. Depending on where you shop, you might have to wait your turn. Good Earth plans to open April 25th, and will probably limit the number of customers allowed in the greenhouse. Many other garden centers will do the same or ask customers to call in their order, pay by phone with a credit card and pick it up at an outside location.


Everything we're used to has come to a screeching halt, but this pandemic can't stop spring. It's comforting to know that we can still get excited about new plants, work in our gardens and hope for the best.  




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