Posted On: June 24, 2015

Spectacular Summer Annuals

The first day of summer is only a few days past and our summer annual displays is looking lush and full. This summer’s planting includes a few interesting oddballs. Around the fountain we have Acmella oleracea commonly known as Spilanthese or Toothache plant. While the flowers of this plant are incredibly interesting, resembling yellow eyeballs, they also hold medical importance to some communities in South America. The flowers and leaves produce a substance known as Spilanthol which causes excessive salvation and numbing of the mouth when chewed.

We are following some of the hot new gardening trends this year with Digiplexus ‘Illumination Flame’. This plant received the Best New Plant Award at the Royal Horticulture Chelsea Flower Show in 2012, the Greenhouse Grower’s 2013 Award of Excellence, the People’s Choice Award at the New Varieties Showcase at the 2013 Farwest Trade Show in Portland, Oregon, and it was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2014 American Garden Award. Who could resist trying such an award winning plant in the garden? This plant reflects 6 years of hybridization work by Charles Valin- it’s a cross between common garden foxglove Digitalis purpurea and its Canary Island perennial cousin Isoplexis canariensis. The result is a foxglove with amazing blooms lasting all summer, and great perennial vigor in temperate climates. Unfortunately we’re expecting hardiness to putter out at zone 8 so we are likely out of range to see this temperennial return next year.

Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos sp.) is one of the show stopper plants in this year’s display. These exotic looking plants bloom all summer with just a little water. Each tiny bud resembles their namesake, a tiny kangaroo paw, opening to white flowers. We also have Bulbine frutescens ‘Hallmark’, a succulent groundcover from the southern coast of South Africa north to Mozambique. These small succulents greatly resemble Aloe, putting out a lot of blooms without a lot of water and fertilizer.
A great number of elephant ears are back in our display. Colocasia ‘Mojito’ is one of our favorite elephant ears, displaying speckles of green and purple on elegant leaves. We are trying out a few new varieties of black elephant ears this year. While Colocasia ‘Jet Black Wonder’ will always be a Park favorite, this year Colocasia ‘Diamond Head’ is giving it a run for its money. C. ‘Diamond Head’ has greater texture than C. ‘Jet Black Wonder,’ producing giant textured leaves with a color pallet resembling dark chocolate.

Keep an eye out for these plants and more all summer long.