Good morning! Well, May is turning out the way it normally does. You get a few wonderfully warm days and you think, “Yes, it is spring.” And then, here come the 50 degree temperatures and rain to take that notion away. But then the warmth returns and, yes, it will stay sooner or later. I am hoping for sooner.

Spring is such a glorious and exciting time as all things become new again. The bright vivid green of the new leaves, all the plants popping up everywhere and for our family – a new addition.

Our first grandson, Conlin Myles, has joined his big sister, Nola Grace. But he was in such a hurry to meet us all that he arrived five weeks early. He is doing great but things have been a bit crazy. So if my column seems a bit disjointed this week, just write it off to “G” being pulled in several directions. But the gardener in me must confess that in spite of everything, I have snuck away three times to the greenhouses to get my container plants.

Some exciting new things are out there and that is what I am going to discuss today.

Coleus is one of my favorite plants, both in the ground and in containers. It comes in such a wonderful array of colors. But at my house, its use has been limited because I have few shady spots. Well now, thanks to the hybridizers, I can indulge in these plants of many colors.

New “sun” coleus have been developed and they are really fun. I found a good selection at Farmer Whitings in Auburn. Couldn’t even think of walking out the door without them (I usually can’t). The two I got are called “Red Ruffles” and “Florida Sun Splash.” Do you ever wonder how many people sit in a room and think of these names? I do. “Red Ruffles” is pretty self-explanatory and it is a beautiful mix of deep burgundy and deep red. “Florida Sun Splash” is a splash of several different colors, including burgundy, yellow, some odd kind of light pink and bright green. There were probably eight to a dozen choices for the sunshine.

I also like waxed begonias, and the hybridizers have done the same thing – bred them for the sun. The leaves of the sun-loving begonias tend to be darker reds and burgundies rather than the bright green you normally expect in waxed begonias. I found these at Jack’s in Buckfield along with four or five dozen other kinds of plants I wanted. Also at Jack’s, the new “Superbells” by Proven Winners. For those who love million bells in your containers, you should see these. They are spectacular. The flower is about twice the size of regular million bells, and the foliage is heavier than a regular million bells. They are supposed to be more heat tolerant. Regular million bells have always bloomed profusely for me; but by the end of July or first couple weeks of August, the foliage looks the worse for wear. These aren’t supposed to do that. I will let you know.

One of the sun gardener’s favorite plants, verbena, is also being updated. A new line of verbena called “Donalena” is an experience in color. Each floret that makes up the bloom is two-toned. I got pink and the back color is light pink with a much darker pink eye. They are trailing, grow about 18 inches tall. I saw them in pink, lavender and purple. I also found a new petunia hybrid called “Littletunia,” which has blooms about twice the size of million bells. But the blooms are a gorgeous pink with a darker pink veining. These will trail but just a bit since they grow only 6 to 8 inches tall. I am sure there were other colors, but you’ve probably noticed a theme emerging – I like pink flowers, a lot.

The last “find” of the season, so far, is maximus. Folks tell me this has been around for a while but in pastel colors. Well, these are called “Mimulus” and are extraordinary. The blooms look almost like little orchids with a velvety texture and really interesting colors and patterns. I have searched through four of my garden books and can find no listing. If anyone knows about them, please let me know so I can share with readers. The tag says they grow 6 to 10 inches tall and like sun and part sun.

Anyway, that’s all for today. I have a baby waiting to be seen. Until next time, the hummers are back so stop for a few moments and enjoy their lively antics. Plan something fun with family or friends for Memorial Day weekend, but do remember to stop, even for just a moment, to count your blessings you.

Happy gardening.

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Green tip

It is, indeed, spring and all of the nurseries will attest to that as plant after plant goes out the door. But then you get those wonderful plants home and you get them planted and what do you have left – a big pile of perfectly good pots. But, then again, how many pots do you need? I always keep a few (my husband says too many) for potting up gifts and for the following spring to start bulbs and seeds. If you have too many, please don’t put all that plastic into the waste stream. Put them in a paper bag or whatever and in your car. The next time you are out and about and pass a nursery, just stop in and donate your pots. The more pots nurseries get back, the fewer they have to buy. You don’t have to take them back to where you bought them – and that’s good because trying to remember where one particular plant came from could be a nightmare. Remember to reuse, recycle or return.


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