March Into Spring

Today is the first day of spring. 
You wouldn’t necessarily think of spring if you were outside in my neck
of the woods.  I had to wear a hat and
gloves for my daily walk. The temperature is in the forties and the sky is
gray.  Nonetheless, I’m ready to march
into spring.  That’s exactly what I did
yesterday at the Hardy Plant Society’s annual conference.  The agenda
was full of horticultural topics from presentations on small flowering trees,
clematis, and hydrangeas to a discussion on how to draw out the details in your
garden.  Presenters ranged from nursery
owners to gardeners at Chanticleer and the Mt. Cuba Center. 
I really valued the information shared.  Mt Cuba, for instance, spent 3 years on plant
trials that resulted in some tried and true recommendations.  I love when someone else has done the work
and can tell me when a plant is likely to perform well in my garden.  It’s similar to searching for a recipe on
line. You look for 5 stars and lots of positive comments from cooks who have
tried the recipes and triumphed! 
Wondering for yourself what plants were most highly rated?  Well, I won’t keep you in suspense.  After all, like most gardeners, I enjoy sharing. 

In the Heuchera category, Mt Cuba’s top picks included the
cultivars Citronelle, Cajun Fire, Bronze Wave, Color Dream, Steel City,
Caramel, Apple Crisp, and Frosted Violet. 
I can attest to the performance of Bronze Wave and Caramel and highly
recommend them for your part shade space. 
Some claim Caramel’s peach tone is difficult to work with, but I find it
to be a wonderful complement many plants in the landscape. I’m now inclined to
add some of these other popular gems to my garden to replace some
under-performers.  The presenter’s favorite
was Steel City, with unique blue green foliage, a dense habit, and a nice
floral display.  What’s unfortunate about
Steel City is that it’s not yet commonly available.  I can’t wait until it is! 

Heuchera ‘Bronze Wave’

Heuchera ‘Steel City’

Adam Glas of the Scott Arboretum talked about Clematis and
how it can be used beyond the mailbox.  He
suggested allowing Clematis to grow up the branches of a shrub or cascade over
a wall that has been draped with hog fencing to enhance its ability to
creep.  Some of Adam’s favorites included
Dutch Sky, Sweet Summer Love, I Am Happy, East River, Bagatelle, Blue
Pirouette, Diamantina, Solina, Princess Kate, Zara and Mazowsze.  I don’t own any of these cultivars, but like
Adam feel I may go from having only a couple Clematis in my garden to having
many.  Why not?

Clematis ‘Diamantina’

Clematis ‘Dutch Sky’

I hope I have inspired you to March into Spring.  It’s time to make your shopping list and head
off to the garden center to purchase some new plant babies.  The best part is knowing they are not only
likely to survive, but likely to thrive in our Mid-Atlantic climate.  Lucky us!

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