Allan Armitage Describes Veggies, Shade Plants, and Climbers That Can Help You Find Success in 2017

Last month, I highlighted developments I see in perennials, annuals, and herbs. This month I’ll talk about trends I see with veggies, shade plants, and climbers.

Veggies: People will Always Want to Grow Something

People will always want the passion of picking something fresh and calling it their own. It is in our DNA. So it is our job to make it easy to be successful today.
People ask about smaller veggies, so we need to offer those bred for patio use. Since room for veggies is shrinking, they constantly ask for better yield; thus we need stronger breeding or ideas like grafted vegetables to be more common and less expensive. They ask about disease resistance — gardeners have not wanted to spray chemicals for the last 10 years, and certainly not in 2017. So put as many disease-resistant plants in front of people as possible. And lastly, when people ask me about veggies, eight out of 10 questions will be about tomatoes. Nothing new there, but if I am any kind of sounding board, it seems that is not changing either.

Shade: Still a Challenge for Everyone

Sun is king when it comes to diversity in the garden and landscape. But because I am constantly asked about shade, I must define it. It is simply an area that gets afternoon shade. Shade plants do superbly even if morning sun beats down, and they continue to perform in dark afternoon shade, as well.

Here are a few choices:
Wax Begonias: While new forms of begonias have been bred to knock eyeballs out while in the greenhouse or garden center, such fancy forms are not as useful in the landscape as the old-fashioned wax begonias. Those plants are almost indestructible. Now with standard forms and humongous forms, they are no longer old-fashioned. Unfortunately, begonias are not as shade loving as impatiens, whose curse of downy mildew has yet to be lifted, but they are the best plants for shady color today.
Ferns: People find ferns calming, so put them out in front of gardeners, landscapers, and designers. Dozens of ferns are native (Christmas fern, New York fern, Cinnamon fern) if that is important. Others exude color (Painted fern, Autumn fern, East Indian fern), and many are extraordinarily cold hardy. The bottom line is that ferns are not only functional, they are colorful and easy to grow, even for beginners.
Shrubs: Shrubs are cornerstones in any garden, and shade-tolerant hydrangeas, viburnums, buckeyes, Oregon grapes, and azaleas are more prevalent in today’s garden than ever before. An expanded color range of flowers and foliage and more compact cultivars make shrubs a no-brainer for shady conditions. In essence, shrubs provide less maintenance, and more functionality and color. What more is needed?

Climbers: Making the Garden Larger

We don’t think about climbers with the same passion as perennials, annuals, and other more popular groups. I am not suggesting that climbers should be first and foremost for garden centers or designers, but they are an increasingly important trend. Gardens are smaller; there is often little room to expand out, so expansion is going up. Climbing roses over trellises, clematis through trees, wisterias along fences and ivies on stone walls are all implemented far more these days. If people’s questions are any indication, climbers should not be ignored in 2017.

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