Garden Discovery

01 Mar 2014

Ah, the warmth of a Spring day has finally arrived and thoughts turn to our now thawed gardens!  So, after judicious pruning, an application of (slow-release) fertilizer, and a raking of the assembled detritus of leaves, let’s make 2014 a year to remember newly cultivated interest in your landscape, and not the ice and cold that was.


We decided to go to our favorite garden centers to get a preview of what new spring plant introductions will be awaiting us.  First stop, Hyams Garden Center on James Island.  George Hyams says that new shipments are on the way and he is excited about some new blooms that will be coming our way.  Most of us are familiar with Encore Azaleas which are repeat bloomers, but we are going to see a new variety called Bloom-A-Thon.  They bring five months of blooms in whites, pinks and lavenders.  They are disease resistant and do well in shady gardens unlike the Encores that need lots of sun.

Love Hydrangeas?  Look for these new stunners.  Plum Passion is the only Hydrangea with purple leaves.  Vanilla Strawberry has large strawberry pink flowers. And what about a heavily jasmine scented Hydrangea called Golden Crane?  It has elegant white flowers and could very well scent your entire garden area. 

Small tree favorites include Hearts of Gold and Rising Sun Redbuds that have the early pink spring flowers but the foliage is lime green with pink and red overtones.  There is also a burgundy leaf weeping redbud called Ruby Falls.  A new variety of Mimosa tree will also be popular.  Summer Chocolate leaves start out with a bronze green color in early spring and darken to a rich chocolate burgundy color in summer.  Of course there are also the pink, powder-puff blooms to love. 

Honorable mentions go to a new variegated Agapanthus called Sun Stripe, two upright Hollys for use in tight spaces called Scarlet's Peak and Emerald Colonnade. For drama in planters try the new  Festival Raspberry Cordyline.   One new plant I want to check out is First Love Gardenia.  It is a small tree (5-8 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide) that tolerates poor soils and is nematode resistant.  Its blooms are fragrant, larger than other Gardenia blooms and are the first to bloom. 

Over in Mt. Pleasant, Bruce Donaldson of Abide-a-While Garden Center, and his knowledgeable staff have made the most of the down-time of January, to reinvigorate much of their nursery areas to better reflect the sophistication of their growing clientele that hales from Charleston, Daniel Island, West Ashley, and Mt. Pleasant.  There is a rustic/elegant quality that describes many of his offerings from garden-oriented gifts to furniture to the plants themselves.  The quality of Monrovia-grown boxwood and ligustrum topiaries can really set off an entry when paired with their beautiful array of pots and planters.  The energetic staff is really a group of enthusiastic gardeners, and have even arranged much of their newly renovated greenhouse areas so that choosing annual color for those planters is a joy. They group the flowers compatibly to make your shopping even easier.  Classes are offered to make the potting efforts a fun and show-stopping experience.

The tasks of Spring are at hand, but the enjoyment of discovery to be found in two of our best go-to garden retailers should lend to the thrill of the hunt of what is new and exciting.  Let your garden reflect your personality.  Let the same-old, same-old be a thing of the past as you let go of the chill and embrace the possibilities of Spring!

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