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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Garden Trends

I recently attend a Garden Writers Association symposium in Tucson, Arizona. It included educational sessions, tours, and a garden products information exhibit. Most valuable and interesting to me was the information on garden trends. Here are some of my favorites.

Plant breeding is a very long, complicated, expensive process. The current trend is to create plants that are a combination of plants that normally wouldn't combine in nature. These include the double purple coneflower and many new hydrangeas. Watch for exciting new types of butterfly bushes with more fragrance to attract even more butterflies and hummingbirds. The new Lavender Veil butterfly bush grows in hanging baskets!

New plants are introduced to fit a particular horticultural need or garden niche. Plants are getting smaller and smaller. These smaller plants are also developed to grow well in containers or small yards. This is especially appealing to those with no yard and only a small patio or balcony.

Included in these ever smaller plants are fruits and vegetables. Patio tomatoes have been around for several years. They are compact, sturdy plants that produce lots of fruit in a small space. New to this niche are raspberries and blueberries. I picked up a raspberry at the symposium to try at home. It is called Raspberry Shortcake and is supposed to do great in containers with no trellis or special pollination needs.

Color has been a plant trend in recent years. Rare and unusual colors are very popular, such as black petunias or blue roses. This year I noticed more and more new plants that change color with each season, not just in the fall. How would you like a pine tree whose needles change to a brilliant yellow during the winter? It might be interesting, but I bet I'll get calls asking why their tree is turning yellow and dying this winter.

These complex, new plants are almost always branded and copyrighted. These breeding programs are expensive and the copyright assures that they receive funds for future sales of these plants. You will recognize many of these brand names. Examples of plants trademarked by nurseries include the Conard-Pyle Co. Knock Out® Roses, Proven Winners' Blommerang™ Lilac, and Bailey Nurseries' Endless Summer® Hydrangea.

The most talked about new plant at the symposium was the 'Sweet Summer Love' clematis by Proven Winners. Bred in Poland, this is the first fall blooming clematis with color and fragrance. It produces purple flowers from late July to late August compared to the traditional Sweet Autumn Clematis that has white flowers from August to September.

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