Crow & Cry Part I: Grumpy's Readers Reveal Plant Winners and Losers for 2017
Usually, this column is all about me, because you love me and rightly so. But today, I want to talk about you and your garden. A couple of weeks ago, I asked on my Grumpy Gardener Facebook page what new plants that you tried this year caused you to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. As always, you responded in a big way. Let's start with some winners!
Selections of panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), including ‘Limelight,' ‘Little Lime,' and ‘Vanilla Strawberry,' surpassed all expectations, according to Darlene Finley Ridgeway of South Carolina, who sent the photo above. As Grumpy has written before, panicle hydrangea is the easiest and toughest hydrangea species – cold-hardy, heat-tolerant, and drought-tolerant. It also blooms on new growth, so you'll get flowers even if you prune at the wrong time or a cold winter kills the flower buds. Deer like her hydrangeas, though, so Darlene sprays them with a deer repellent called Bobbex.
Susan Robin Tompkins calls her new ‘Night Sky' petunia, shown above, a "super performer." Deep purple flowers flecked with white remind you of stars in the night sky. The plant grows 10-13 inches tall and works very well in containers, as this photo proves. Susan lives in Washington State (which shows what a phenomenal, far-flung fan base Grumpy has), but ‘Night Sky' should do well in your neck of the woods too.
As Alabaman Leslie Jean Hilt can attest, good plants need not cost a fortune. That's her ‘Burgundy Glow' ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow') filling in the spaces between pavers above. This multi-colored ground cover spreads quickly in sun or shade, grows only a couple of inches tall, has pretty blue flowers in spring, and deer won't eat it. Leslie bought it at a clearance sale at Wal-Mart.
Of course, 2017 didn't mean a victory parade for everybody. Lisa Floweree Bigon suffered the agony of defeat as much as that fried heuchera above. She thinks that mulching it with gravel may have played a factor in the Texas heat, but I told her don't feel bad – heuchera is hard to grow for just about everybody in the South. It doesn't like heat, humidity, or heavy, clay soil. What valuable lesson did Leslie learn? "[It] taught me to deal with local nurseries and do my homework before I buy," she says. "Just because they sell them doesn't mean they'll do well."
NEXT TIME ON THE GRUMPY GARDENER – More winners and losers from our readers.