Forget the resolutions to eat less and exercise more. Good ideas but hardly enough to get excited about. Now if we're talking finding the hottest plants for 2013 THEN I get excited, especially if we're talking great foliage.
Here are some of the best new leafy introductions to watch out for and there's not a single calorie to worry about.
Begonia 'Sparks will fly'
Now if this beauty had a flavor it would be rich bittersweet chocolate with hints of zesty orange (can you gain weight if you just think about chocolate?) Those lickalicious deep blackish-green leaves set off firecracker flowers perfectly. Imagine this in a bright blue container. Not for the faint of heart but definitely top of my wish list for shady spot this summer. Yum.
Heucherella 'Sunrise Falls'
Does the world need any more Heucherella (or Heuchera come to that)? Well apparently we do because propagators like Terra Nova Nurseries keep growing them and we keep buying them ! So what has caught my eye this time? Sunrise Falls. Is that a yawn I hear? Well wake up because this is a trailing variety. I've used Redstone Falls and Yellowstone Falls in containers for the last two years and clients love them yet they can languish in the nurseries simply because their star status is unrealized. Plant these at the edge of a container and the large maple shaped leaves will tumble downwards for 2' or so adding a bright splash of gold to a shady spot. Each leaf has dark red veins and takes on burgundy tints in colder weather. Hardy in zones 4-9
Leucothoe 'Curly Red'. (Leucothoe axillaris)
I'll let you into a secret. The coolest plants don't even make it into the nursery. Seriously. When deliveries arrive you may notice the conspicuous absence of nursery staff. That isn't because they all rush out to help the driver unload out of thoughtfulness. Oh no. They all want to see what goodies have just arrived and anything really new and unusual gets snagged before you even know it's there! How do I know this? I've worked in a nursery. And this was why when I saw this new leucothoe in a container I was told they were 'sold out'. Yeah right. So go and hunt down this one, currently available from Monrovia. The twisted leathery leaves open orange-red and mature to dark green before turning purple-red in fall. Evergreen, deer resistant, great for the garden or pots and white spring flowers. See why they were 'sold out'? Part sun/part shade and hardy in zones 6-9.
Solomon's seal 'Double Stuff' (Polygonatum odoratum)
It can be dangerous driving with a plant geek. Cars can make abrupt turns or screech to a halt at the merest hint of a nursery. Walking isn't much better. One minute you're chatting away to your friend and the next you realize you are completely alone. Your companion has disappeared like Alice down the rabbit hole but in this case they are likely to be found on hands and knees peering at something leafy. Beware shady encounters with Double Stuff – it will grab your attention like a giant bar of Toblerone. At 2' tall at least you can stay standing up to appreciate this fabulous new foliage plant. Its cousin – the regular variegated Solomon's seal, pales in comparison with this bold form. Arching red stems hold pairs of green and white variegated leaves joined in spring by dangling white bells. This perennial thrives in moist woodland locations where it will slowly spread by rhizomes. Hardy in zones 3-8
If you'd like to join me in a healthy diet of low calorie leaves this year I have good news for you. Starting today you can enjoy a new blog; Fine Foliage! Yes this is the companion blog to my new book, coauthored with Christina Salwitz. Consider it an appetizer. We'll post a new recipe each week to inspire you to put foliage together in new ways. Tempted?
Meet you at the buffet table; www.fine-foliage.com