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Ten Flowers For Your 1997 Garden
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
A reader asked me to put together a list of my top 10 flowers to try in 1997. Since people accuse me of never meeting a plant I don't like, selecting favorites was a huge challenge.
But here's my list.
- Get to your nurseries fast because the New Wonder Scaevola is going fast. Known for its ability to endure Southern summers, New Wonder won the 1997 Mississippi Medallion award, the Georgia Gold Medal and the Louisiana Select award.
- The Tapien verbenas that I have been raving about aren't as plentiful as I would like, so get yours soon. Look for blue-violet, lavender, pink and powder blue. This is another group that blooms all summer and loves the heat.
- Indian Summer rudbeckia is a breathtakingly beautiful black-eyed Susan or Gloriosa daisy. The flowers are huge -- almost softball size, but will not be in bloom when you buy it. It is a perennial, but even as an annual it is worth every penny. Try the Rudbeckia fulgida Goldstrum, another good black-eyed Susan, which is not as showy but more reliably perennial.
- Every garden should have melampodium. This 1997 Mississippi Medallion winner can make anyone look like they have a green thumb. The yellow daisy-like flowers are never ending.
- Crystal White zinnia is a wonderful 1997 All-America Winner. It produces tiny white daisy-like flowers with orange centers and gets about 24 inches tall and wide. It will produce all summer as well.
- Purple wave petunia just may be the petunia that all others will be compared to in the future. This low-growing, rose-purple petunia is a prolific flower producer and will last longer into the summer than any other petunia you have tried before.
- New Gold lantana was the 1996 Mississippi Medallion winner, a 1995 Georgia Gold Medal winner and is being sold now as fast as it was last year at the height of its promotion. Planted in combination with the blue-violet Tapien verbena, this yellow-gold lantana will be a real show for your landscape or container.
- Victoria blue salvia is a must in my garden with its beautiful tall blue flower spikes. All of mine returned faithfully after this winter and are putting on buds. The monarch butterflies that finally came last year liked these plants.
- Sundial portulaca is a giant-flowered moss rose. These flowers are some of the best for staying open long into the day. Gardeners can mass plant a single color, such as the Sundial fuchsia, to create a bed of color that will literally stop traffic.
- Royal Sonata cosmos produces some of the most beautiful, delicate, daisy-like flowers in shades of purple, rose and pink. The 18- to 24-inch plants with a feathery leaf texture work well in borders.
Now that I have listed my 10 favorites, I am already feeling unsure and guilt-ridden because I love my purple coneflowers, stokes asters and liatris. I like my shasta daisies, Mexican sage, Russian sage and moon beam coreopsis. I think the Stella d'Oro daylily is awesome and everyone should have at least a dozen. Pentas are another must. I have bought my Blue Daze evolvulus. Have you?
Maybe this should be top 100 in no order so I would not have to feel quite so nervous or guilty for those I left out.