Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Ushers in New, Easy to Grow Plants to Color Your Garden

It’s the first day of spring and time to take a lesson from Mother Nature’s palette to create a garden masterpiece with new easy to grow, low maintenance plants.

Susan McCoy, gardening expert for the Garden Media Group, a Philadelphia area firm specializing in green living and garden trend spotting says, break the rules when choosing colors. “You learned to color with crayons and experimented with mixing paints, so take that sense of play and extend it to the garden.”
Design and Photo by Margie Grace Associates, APLD
McCoy says to take cues from Mother Nature’s color wheel. “Mother Nature is daring,” explains McCoy. “She mixes amazing color combinations, from bright hues to soft pastels.”

Gardening experts say it’s easy to have a show stopping garden with continuous color spring through fall by picking the right plants for the right spot. New plants out this spring prove to be just what the gardener wants: easy to grow, full of blooms, and low maintenance. 

“The first thing you want to do when planning this year’s garden is to determine the “feel” of the garden, where you want your plants and the overall color scheme,” says Margie Grace, Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) member. “Then select plants that will create balance and draw the eye.”

Tropic Escape Hibiscus from Costa Farms
“Those looking for a backyard oasis can bring it home with the new Tropic Escape Hibiscus Collection from Costa Farms,” says McCoy. The over-sized flowers almost the size of dinner plates come in a dozen tropical colors like Caribbean Cocktail yellow and Tiki Temptation orange, and bloom twice as long as traditional hibiscus. These easy care hibiscus take the heat in sunny locations and add punch to any outdoor décor and quickly turn a deck, patio or balcony into a party.
Bambino Bougainvillea
from Hines Growers

“Bold colors are dominating this spring,” says McCoy. Purple, red and orange are showing up in many new plants, like the new dwarf Bambino Bougainvillea from Hines Growers. These new plants are more compact than traditional bougainvillea and produce abundant flowers. Plus, they’re drought tolerant once established. “They give spectacular color in the landscape, are ideal for containers and create a colorful spot in small outdoor spaces.” 

American Beauties Native Plans
Another planning idea is attracting birds and butterflies to the garden. McCoy loves native plants from American Beauties Native Plants for beautiful flowers and plants that are ideally suited for regional conditions. Plus a portion of each sale supports the National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat program.

Herbs in the landscape, in pots or in the kitchen garden are also hot this spring. Grace uses herbs to add color and texture in borders and mixes them in containers with veggies or perennials. 
Using herbs. like this wall of rosemary,
in the landscape gives gardeners beauty and function
McCoy agrees. “It’s so easy to pot up herbs indoors and out for fresh ingredients year round.” She loves the rare and traditional new herbs like stevia, lemon grass and bee balm, the herb of the year, she’s found at The Growers Exchange. “Perennial herbs like rosemary look stunning cascading over walls or out of containers,” says McCoy.

If planning a garden is challenging, it may be time to call in a professional. She says that professional landscape designers like Margie Grace, a recent International Landscape Designer of the Year, can help bring life to a garden with beautiful native and low-maintenance plants and natural materials. To find a local, professional landscape designer, check out APLD’s website.


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