I mentioned in my last post that an autumn seed order was in the works. However, before any seeds are ordered for the coming year, a hard look needs to be taken at how the “new kids” for 2020 performed. Now granted, it was a difficult year, with high temps and low rainfall, but overall the gardens did very well so any plant worth its salt should have been able to manage. There weren’t a lot of “new” varieties of seeds planted, so this review will be rather short, but it’s important to evaluate them so good decisions can be made on whether to reorder them for the upcoming year. First the winners!
This little darling was a non-stop show! While a teensy bit redder than I’d like, it still had an orange cast and certainly added a lot of oomph to the potager’s interior borders. Some of the plants were already blooming in late April when they were planted, and they are continued blooming well through the hot, hot summer. I did keep them fairly well watered, and did an occasional deadhead snip with the scissors, but not often and not on all of them. These were big winners, and if orange is not your color, “Snaptini” comes in a mix of 9 different colors, or in separate colors:burgundy bi-color, violet, white, sunglow orange, red, rose bicolor, Sangria Splash, and yellow.
Another non-stop performer was from Renee’s Garden Seeds. Nasturtiums, like snapdragons, are notorious for taking a break during hot weather, but these gorgeous beauties never missed a beat. I think I only deadheaded them twice the entire growing season, but that didn’t seem to matter. They were watered almost daily, because they were planted in the small triangle planters near the greenhouse, which dry out rather quickly. In addition, compared to two other nasturtium varieties their foliage stayed nicer as well. Some folks object to nasturtiums because they attract aphids, but I say “better to have the aphids concentrated on them than on everything else!” And, it makes them VERY good plants for ladybugs, who seem to have no trouble keeping any aphids in check.
The Front Island tends to be a little dark and “blah” especially once the daylilies finish. Coleus “Wizard Gold” was selected to brighten up this area, a challenge under the old black walnut trees where even the hostas have not grown much in three years! Not knowing how they would perform, fifty were planted on the northern edge of the entire Front Island, some were planted under the elder, some were planted in full sun at the edge of the Deck Garden, and some were planted in containers on the deck. I’m happy to report that no matter the location, they were fantastic, providing bright color and carefree foliage all season. There were no problems with leaves turning brown and they stayed a compact 8-10″ tall and about 6-8″ across. They are definitely on the list for next year.
And now the losers…
I had high hopes after reading the description: “20” in pots, 27″ in the ground; petals start soft apricot with pale lavender base and reverse, then become pale yellow at maturity. Flowers July-Oct.” Well, mine were 30″ tall in the Cutting Garden and were never what I would describe as apricot or pale yellow. They were pink, pink, pink…and tiny. The flowers are only 1 1/2″ across and never fully opened to “flat.” In addition, the flowers were very short-lived, and had stems too short for cutting well. Even the butterflies didn’t seem very interested in them.
I’m always looking for good climbers for the trellises I had built for the potager, so when I saw this one in Renee’s catalog I immediately added it to the list. It is a good grower vertically, but I was surprised at its short, dark green fruits. Right now, they are getting flecks of orange, but it’s hard to see because the skin surface is covered with bug bites and scars. I find that interesting, because none of the other squash varieties are having this issue. The fruits are small and there are only 3 fruits on the vine rather than the six or seven larger ones on “Butterscotch.” It will be interesting to compare flavor and actual weights per vine, but right now I doubt it will be enough to put “Climbing Butternut” on the order.
If I were only growing peppers for looks, “Corbaci” would definitely make the list. The plants are tidy, upright and absolutely covered with dramatic, 10-12″ long narrow peppers that start out brilliant yellow, turn orange, and then deep red. If you look at the “Butternut” photo, you can see some of them just below the squash. They really are stunning and some of the most productive peppers I’ve grown, fruits per plant-wise. The flavor is mild, a bit fruity but my issue is the tough, tough skin and extremely thin-walls. It takes a lot of them to actually “flavor” any dish. I couldn’t even give them away after people had tried them once. I’ll plant one in each of the 4 triangle beds next year, just for decoration to use up the remaining seed, but I won’t be ordering them again.
So, that’s the evaluation for the first-timers in 2020. Now I can pick some newcomers for 2021!