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Garden Talk: what's new, blue, and what I've seen lately

November 21, 2011

Dale Chihuly's Walla Walla blown-glass onions look like they belong floating amongst the lotus pads and flowers in Missouri Botanical Garden's pond.

Credit: Doreen G. Howard
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Even though gardening season is ending, new plants and ideas are popping up every day in press releases I receive, trade magazines and in the electronic media. 

It’s like the gardening world has kicked into overdrive, even though spring planting is over six months away for some of us.

And, the first seed catalog for 2012 arrived during the first week of November!

According to trend experts, black and amber are the “must-have” colors for plants in 2012, and front-yard gardening will replace backyard displays.  One press release suggested pairing low-growing AMBER Flower Carpet® roses with ‘Black Beauty’ heurchera in containers or as edging in larger flower beds.

Not the normal croton, 'Picasso's Paintbrush' will grow into a four-foot shrub to anchor flower gardens.

A new tropical that got my attention is ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ croton; it looks like a plant that had a bad hair day.  Unlike a normal croton with wide leaves, these leaves are narrow with a stripe of autumn colors down the middle, and they’re curled.  The plant can grow into a four-foot shrub in tropical climates or in a container that is brought indoors for the winter.  I’ve grown a wide-leaf croton in a large pot for five years.  It makes a gorgeous houseplant, vividly coloring gray winter days.  I’ll be looking for ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ at big boxes and garden centers.

Glass Insect Eaters
During my October travels, I visited Missouri Botanical Garden and was dazzled by several blown glass displays by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.  Among the displays of blue glass chandeliers, yellow arbor frieze and bobbing Walla Walla onions in the lotus pond, I spotted amber pitcher plants in a murky pond amongst water hyacinths and neem trees in the  Climatron.  That’s the garden’s award-winning conservatory. 

The willowy carnivorous plants normally grow in boggy, humid areas of the world; these, executed in blown glass, were ethereal.  They gave me the idea to include glass globes like Witch Balls in my tropical garden next season.

More blue flowers
Evidently numerous consumers love those blue orchids, which has prompted plant producers to dye other flower types.  Blue anthurium and kalanchoes are on the market now and should be a big hit for the holidays. Both are created using the patented process of injecting blue dye into roots when flower buds are forming.

Called Princess Alexia Blue, this anthurium is from Rijnplant and is now on the market. Photo courtesy of Acres Online.

I’ve already made it known my dislike of blue orchids.  How do you feel about the newest blue flowers?

Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.

In stores now!

Look for Doreen's newest book, Heirloom Flavor: Yesterday's Best-Tasting Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs for Today's Cook. Find in stores everywhere including Walmart and on the Web including Amazon.com.

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Very interesting

By Sally Barry

(at first glance, the 'onions' seemed to be floating in the middle of a bunch of Reeses peanut butter cups, LOL) - I think the blue anthurium is beautiful, I think a lot of people would buy it if available. Too bad it isn't 'natural' blue, but I'll take it nonetheless.

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