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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