This year, when gardeners look at plant and seed catalogs, I think they will be inclined to go for the safe and familiar. After all, even optimists need a sense of security. It will probably be a banner year for roses of all kinds, with reds selling well. The ongoing vogue for cottage flowers will probably continue to be strong. In fact, the wildest thing many people will invest in come spring will be a few of the more bizarre coleus cultivars.
With that in mind, I have decided that this year I need to make a conscious effort to select at least a few plants that are new to me or new to cultivation. Fortunately the catalog vendors will never completely abandon the new and different. They are optimists too, knowing that last year’s unknown plant may be next year’s big seller. As the late Diana Vreeland might have said, angelonia may become the new coleus.
If you are a Southerner, or even page through Southern Living magazine from time to time, you may have heard of something called “Shoe-Fly Plant”. This annual, correctly known as Nicandra physalodes, is a native of Peru, and also goes by “Apple of Peru”. This year Select Seeds has a cultivar called ‘Splash of Cream’, that has variegated foliage and bright blue flowers, the latter somewhat reminiscent of small morning glories. The flowers of Nicandra close up as the day progresses, so it is helpful to position the plants in a place where you will see them in the morning. Apple of Peru is a fairly tall (3-5-feet) sun lover, and so vigorous in the South that it has often escaped gardens, gotten accustomed to life on the street, and lowered itself to weed status. If ‘Splash of Cream’ is like other variegated plants, I suspect it will be a little less hardy than itsRead more on backyardgardener.com