Well fair readers, if you are are anything like many of us here at the Pipestone you have already had your fill of winter and are more than ready for spring to arrive! Along that train of thought, some of us at the paper are avid gardeners and to battle the all white winter blues, we are already dreaming in vivid colour of what our gardens will look like in the coming year. While drooling over seed catalogues, oohing and aahing over all the new colours, and debating on whether we have just the right spot available for that new variety we want to try out this year, we shared with one another these sugarplum dreams of the "perfect" garden that dances in our heads and the discussion morphed into what our most, and least, favourite plants are along with the reasons why they hold these places in our hearts and minds. So somewhere along the way I decided to put pen to paper, and with tongue firmly in cheek, created the Pipestone Flyer's first Hot & Not list of plants for the 2014 Leduc/Wetaskiwin garden!
Hot: Lilies. You can never go wrong with these perennial favourites. With the endless range of colours and heights available they will fit in anywhere, require little to no care, and depending on the variety, smell like heaven.
Not: Pansies. Yes, you can find these old fashioned favourites in almost any garden but that is because once you plant them you can never get rid of them!!! Hardy in the right spot and coming in every colour under the sun they are a tempting choice but unless you want to be pulling up volunteer plants throughout the rest of your garden and lawn for years to come, leave these little shade loving blossoms on the greenhouse shelf.
Hot: Snap Dragons. These stunners should be a "go to" plant for every gardener. Now coming in mini varieties that top out at about 6 inches to the "Rocket" variety that will give you 3-4 feet of blooming splendour, you just can't go wrong with Snap Dragons. The new colour mixes that have come out in the last few years are truly show stoppers and some of the older, classic colours still retain a scent.
Not: Marigolds. This choice created a bit of debate because marigolds, particularly in this difficult gardening climate, do have some very good points going for them. They are hardy as heck, they will repel some harmful bugs, and they now come in a range of yellow,orange and even close to red hues. In the end however, there were two determiners that finally placed them on the "not" list; the irresistible attraction they seem to be to wasps, and to be blunt, they STINK!
Hot: Sweet Peas. How can anyone dislike Sweet Peas? A blossom requiring no care, (other than staking the climbing varieties) the classic mix of colours looks great anywhere, the more you cut the more they bloom, and their scent makes you go back time and time again for just one more sniff.
Not: Sun Flowers. Many will disagree with this choice but seriously folks, other than the beauty of acres upon acres of sun flowers blooming in a field, I have yet to see these garden monoliths fit in and look good in a flower bed. Two or three gigantic yellow and black heads towering over the back of an otherwise well ordered garden just looks kind of bedraggled and sad. They are not stately Grecian Columns and we do not live in Athens so please leave these garden pariahs at the store!
Hot: Hollyhocks. These old fashioned English garden favourites are making a strong comeback in recent years. New colours and shorter varieties now make it possible to have these stunners in almost any garden space without overpowering all the other plants. They can be a bit fussy, requiring full sun and a keen eye for garden pests which love to gnaw on their juicy leaves and blooms, but If you want a true show piece in your garden with the "wow" factor that draws admiring comments from every visitor then these beauties are an automatic winner.
Not: All the tropicals and sub-tropicals available for sale at local greenhouses! As gardeners we are all drawn to trying out new plants with their eye catching colours, different foliage and huge exotic blooms pictured on the tags, but sadly, these tropical temptresses invariably leave us ever-hopeful gardeners in zones 2/3 with nothing but disappointment. With a much shorter and cooler growing season here than these plants require the promised abundance of greenery turns out to be a stunted, blighted branch that usually does a whole lot of nothing. And if we are blessed with a longer, hotter summer than normal we might get teased by the sight of a blossom bud finally sprouting on the vine only to find it brown and shrivelled the next morning as we receive our first frost of the season at the end of August. So please dear gardeners, diligently check what zone that irresistible new bloom is rated for and save yourself the disappointment (and money) of nurturing a tender twig through to its inevitable early demise.
Well that draws our first Hot & Not list for the Leduc/Wetaskiwin gardener to an end. I hope everyone enjoyed it and please feel free to agree or disagree with our choices (and let us know about it with a letter if you feel that strongly about it!). So if we aren't staked out like scare crows on our own bean poles this fall we might even do another one next year! Until then, dear readers, dream in colour!