17 Fabulous Plants for Your Spring Garden
Try these ornamentals and edibles in your containers and garden beds.
Is there anything better than spring? I’ve been spending mine elbow deep in dirt and loving it, planting a variety of new-for-2017 plants and flowers and also getting a sneak peek at even newer varieties slated for release in 2018.
My garden has a little bit of everything: raised beds and pots on the back deck with a variety of tomatoes, peppers, container raspberries and blackberries from Brazelberries and Monrovia and—first time experiment—potatoes! I also use two large rectangular planters with trellises and jasmine to block my deck from the public tennis courts behind my house. My front yard is my fledgling attempt at a wild and woolly English garden with large shrubs that have matured into window blockers that require perpetual lopping off but an incredible variety of perennials that make me feel like I am running into old friends each spring when they pop out of the dirt.
On my very small quarter acre lot a shady side yard that was a weed, ivy and bramble-choked nightmare I am very proud to have tamed myself is becoming a bit of a hydrangea zone, with elephant ears, lupine, shrub roses, ornamentals and begonias in the mix.
Here are some of the newer plants I’ve added to my garden this year.
Seaside Serenade Hydrangeas (Monrovia)
A series of hydrangea named for iconic Northeastern locales, from Fire Island to Cape Cod to the Hamptons, these hardy repeat bloomers boast big mop head blooms. A hydrangea for every need, the Annabelle variety Bar Harbor is designed for smaller spaces, the Cap May is a delicate lace cap variety and I am loving the fat, dense blossoms of the Cape Cod I planted in my half-shade, half-sun garden which I can already see will deliver ample blooms for indoor arrangements.
Penstemon Cherry Sparks and Penstemon MissionBells Deep Rose (Darwin Perennials)
Both of these intensely-hued pretty red flowers on 18-20” stalks have a long bloom time and better heat tolerance and winter hardiness than other penstemons. I love the charming verticality of these plants and the rich jewel hues they lend to my garden.
Coreopsis UpTick (Darwin Perennials)
A great plant to attract butterflies and bees, these cheerful, sunny flowers are North American natives and add a long-lasting dash of color in new UpTick Gold and Bronze, Yellow and Red and Cream and Red shades.
Salvia Blue Marvel (Darwin Perennials)
Another plant to draw pollinators and hummingbirds this meadow sage is a great container or bed plant with its lovely blue flowers. I have a variety of salvias in my garden and love their dense foliage, spiky flowers and wildflower look.
Gisele Pink Phlox (BallFlora/Selecta)
I am a huge phlox fan: it spreads like wildfire and really fills out the garden with its mounding habit. Heat tolerant for my Southern garden, Gisele Pink Phlox’s blooms will last from spring to fall.
Gilded Sun (Star Roses)
I am a big fan of Star Roses which are bred to be low maintenance. I try to get out into the garden a little bit every weekend, but travels and other activities can sometimes interfere. These roses don’t seem to hold it against me. Star Roses have performed really well in my garden even when I don’t do my gardener due diligence. Gilded Sun looks like another winner, with intense yellow flower color that is fade-resistant, combined with lovely dark green, glossy leaves.
Canyon Road (Star Roses)
This floribunda shrub rose is disease-resistant and produces nice brick-red double blooms in large clusters, lending drama to your garden, especially in border plantings.
Princess Charlene de Monaco (Star Roses)
This brand new hybrid tea rose has a light fragrance (wish more growers would understand how wonderful fragrance is in roses. It’s why I treasure my David Austins) and double blooms in light shell pink/apricot hues and was selected by Monaco’s royal family for inclusion in their namesake family of roses. Even better, these shrub roses bloom for months.
Shining Moment (Star Roses)
This floribunda rose has an intense pink color and is versatile in the landscape, suitable for large containers or mass planting.
Trixi Caribbean Cocktail Calibrachoa (BallFlora/Selecta)
This fun blend of tropical colors and perky little blossoms is a great way to juice up your summer garden design.
Conga Orange Calibrachoa
I love the brightness of this calibrachoa which is notable for its ease of growing and profusion of flowers.
Pepper Gold Standard (Burpee)
This gorgeous yellow pepper is bred to resist a number of diseases including bacterial leaf spot, tobacco mosaic virus and potato virus Y, which means healthy, happy peppers this summer!
Pepper Dragon Roll (Burpee)
Get in on the latest foodie craze: shishito peppers, which are showing up on hip restaurant menus across the country. More mild than a jalapeno, these peppers would be great sautéed, roasted or blistered in hot olive oil and sprinkled with flaky Maldon sea salt.
Tomato Oh-Happy-Day (Burpee)
These beefsteak tomatoes are bred to resist a number of tomato diseases and yield tasty, 5-6 ounce toms. Homegrown tomatoes are, frankly, the best part of the summer garden in my book and make supermarket tomatoes seem so pitiful, so tasteless and sad.
Tomato Gladiator (Burpee)
These big ole boys produce a ton of fruit great for slicing or sauce-making.
Raspberry Shortcake (Monrovia)
Monrovia is rolling out some new plants this year and this compact raspberry bush is a fun choice. It’s thornless, so children can enjoy the fruit without the dreaded pricks. It grows in a compact little mound and works as well in the landscape as it does in a container, so you can enjoy fresh berries whether you have a fire escape or a plot of land. My only complaint: squirrels. They clearly love berries too.
Baby Cakes Blackberry (Monrovia)
A dwarf, thornless blackberry, this plant still yields big, fat berries and works very well in tight spaces where you don’t have to worry about thorns grabbing onto your clothes. I’m looking forward to a plant that in most regions will produce fruit twice in one season.
2018 Preview: Start Planning Ahead
Dianthus Jolt Pink Magic (PanAmerican Seed)
I am a huge fan of dianthus, in the carnation family. I love the clustered ring of blooms that make every flower look like a tiny bouquet. This particular variety delivered instant blooms a week after planting in varied shades of pink and purple and is bred for durability. Now if only it can stand up to my dog Oskar’s interloping in my garden beds.
Begonia Megawatt Red Bronze Leaf (PanAmerican Seed)
I was never a huge begonia fan until I started trying out these newer versions of the archetypal grandmother plant. Let’s just say I am now a convert. These new begonias deliver rich color in even shady locations and keep their color all summer long into fall. Better still, they don’t need deadheading, which means one more garden chore to strike off my list.
Tomato Little Bing (PanAmerican Seed)
An edible I used to shun, the cherry tomato has come a long way in recent years, upping its game with foodies’ demand for better, richer taste. Little Bing is a natural patio plant and grows in a mounded form, so you don’t need to stake it.
Pepper Candy Cane Red (PanAmerican Seed)
Another edible trend driven by foodie culture: pretty fruit and vegetables. These striped peppers add so much visual interest to salads or garnishes and don’t require support.
Pepper Mad Hatter (PanAmerican Seed)
These award-winning, robust peppers are sweet, citrusy and crunchy and hail from pepper varieties native to Bolivia and Peru. They are great in salads, stuffed with cheese or eaten straight off of the plant.
Minifamous Pink Strike Calibrachoa (BallFlora/Selecta)
Pretty deep red eyes with lighter pink petals and large blooms make this a new breed of calibrachoa, a popular, vigorous annual that blooms like crazy, delivering a lot of bang for your buck.
Headliner Pink Sky Petunia (BallFlora/Selecta)
Splattered with a constellation of white spots like plant polka dots, this hot pink petunia with a spiller habit adds a fun, designed look to your garden. This flower is a definite conversation piece.
Bloomify Red Lantana (BallFlora/Selecta)
Lananta is a reliable sun-lover that blooms all summer and maintains its color throughout. Butterflies love lantana and the rich orange and red colors of Bloomify Red Lantana make this plant even more appealing.
FlameThrower Salsa Verde Coleus (BallFlora/Selecta)
I will admit I am nuts for two plant colors: a deep, rich purple and a shocking lime-y green. In combination, even better. I love the look of this exquisitely bright lime green coleus, which works in sun and shade and adds a great pop of contrasting green to containers and garden beds. The spikey leaf shape adds even more interest.
ColorBlitz Blue Stardust Petunia (BallFlora/Selecta)
A bicolor petunia in that most elusive of garden colors, a pretty, vivid blue-purple, this Stardust Petunia boasts a cool white star in its center and adds great visual interest to containers.