Ice and snow are so over. It's time for color. As gardening gets underway after a way-too-long winter, we all need something bright and warm. Here are some new (or newly available) plants whose hues can light up the landscape.
'Sweet Summer Love' clematis (Clematis terniflora 'Sweet Summer Love'): Sweet autumn clematis blooms late in the season with abundant tiny flowers. On this new Proven Winners variety, they are a striking cranberry-and-purple combination. Somewhat shade-tolerant, sweet autumn clematis is a very vigorous vine that must be cut back hard early each spring. provenwinners.com, wayside.com, whiteflowerfarm.com
'Cat's Meow' catmint (Nepeta faassenii 'Cat's Meow'): The silvery purple of catmint is a perfect foil for brightly colored perennials, and this variety from Proven Winners is much more compact and less likely to sprawl than others. It's heat- and drought-tolerant and re-blooms from early summer all season. In many garden centers, or see provenwinners.com
'Short 'n' Sassy' sneezeweed (Helenium 'Short 'n' Sassy'): Just 12 to 18 inches tall, this eye-popping gold-and-orange-blooming perennial from Skagit Gardens is much more manageable than the tall native prairie plant it's descended from. It's rugged, long-blooming and drought-tolerant. springhillnursery.com, waysidegardens.com, greatgardenplants.com
'African Sunset' petunia (Petunia x hybrida 'African Sunset): Shades of orange glow in this All-America Selections award-winning annual, with a mounded, spreading habit. It should be widely available in garden centers. all-americaselections.org
'Curly Fries' hosta (Hosta 'Curly Fries'): Just 5 inches tall, this jaunty miniature hosta from Walters Gardens has sturdy, wavy-edged chartreuse leaves. Tuck it into a corner in the shade garden, along the edge of the path or in a container. greatgardenplants.com
'Gastby's Gatsby's Gal' oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Gatsby's Gal'): Riding this year's wave of new hydrangeas, this is a compact selection of the southeastern native shrub, with lots of upright clusters of white flowers and interesting peeling bark. provenwinners.com
'Phenomenal' lavender (Lavandula x intermedia 'Phenomenal'): Extra hardy and tolerant of drought, heat and humidity, this variety of the famously fragrant perennial has silvery leaves and tall, slender, purple-blue flower spikes. burpee.com, parkseed.com, territorialseed.com
'Peppermint Stick' chard: With refreshing pink-and-white-striped stalks against the broad green leaves, this cool-season vegetable from Renee's Garden can adorn the garden on its way to the stir-fry. reneesgarden.com.
'Blue Berries' tomato: This variety from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has small, sweet, cherry-size tomatoes that start out amethyst purple and ripen to purple-tinged red; the color reflects abundant healthy anthocyanins. rareseeds.com
'Double Gold' raspberry: You'll get two crops a year of flavorful, sweet berries in a gorgeous pink flushed with gold. These are full-size everbearing raspberry bushes, so be sure you have space in full sun and are prepared to prune. burpee.com
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