Allan Armitage’s Spring Trials Favorites From Green Fuse Botanicals, GroLink, and Windmill Nursery

Allan Armitage’s Spring Trials Favorites From Green Fuse Botanicals, GroLink, and Windmill Nursery

Here are some of the top variety introductions for 2019 that have been pleasing to my eyes and senses during California Spring Trials 2018.

Lavender ‘Madrid Lavish’


I have seen many lavenders in my day, and some have been quite wonderful. After all, who doesn’t like the fragrance and beauty of well-grown lavender? At Green Fuse Botanicals, I stumbled on to something quite astonishing. Lavender ‘Madrid Lavish’ has the fullest, most robust flowering stem I have ever seen. The flowers essentially opened all along the entire inflorescence – all at once. It was just extraordinary. My description pales compared to the real thing, and the photo does it a modicum of justice. As wonderful as they are, the even better news is that more are on the way. Stay tuned.

Calla ‘Captain Beretta’

About the only description I have for this calla from Kapiteyn Flower Bulbs is WOW! I understand that callas do not have the same market penetration of a petunia, but the market potential is far greater. These are not landscape plants, they are not even garden plants – they are, however, extraordinary plants for the containers on the deck. This black calla stole the show for me, but other eye-popping callas were also on display. Give them a try.

Gaura ‘Silver Fountain’

I have seen a good number of gauras and a good number of variegated forms, but this selection from Plant Haven really stood out. The variegation was clean, the plants solid, and the white flowers numerous. The nice thing is that they have a couple of other experimental variegated forms in the pipeline. I am pleased to see them.

Petunia ‘Double Sugar Plum’

Everyone was buzzing about this handsome, compact petunia in the Veranda series by Kientzler. The multicolored flowers stand out as few others and the density of foliage and the full-bodied habit left all of us exclaiming in delight.

Gardenia ‘Sweetheart’

I am a big proponent of performance, regardless if in a garden setting or in a container on the balcony. Some plants just feel comfortable to have beside us as we enjoy a book or sip a glass of wine. Gardenias are one of them, and I was so impressed with the shorter but heavenly fragrant gardenia offered by J. Berry Nursery. The flower count was high, plants had excellent form – all good traits but both faded away as the perfume filled the air. Fragrance and beauty, those work for me.

Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’

Visiting Terra Nova is a bit like visiting the Promised Land. You never know what to expect, but somehow your expectations are fulfilled. I loved the silver filigree foliage of this artemisia, it would brighten up the darkest space in the garden. It is an annual, but who cares. In a mixed container or in the garden itself, there is a place for silver. I think this could be a winner, give it a go.

Heuchera GrandeSseries

Big and bold –those are the words that quickly come to mind when I saw these huge coral bells from Terra Nova. They are built for larger spaces and I expect they will stand out at retail and fill large areas in the landscape. A couple of colors are available; ‘Grande Amethyst’ is particularly outstanding.

Lily Look LA Hybrids

The lily look program from 2 Plant has always been one of my favorites for garden lilies. Their programs for Orientals (Sunny series) and Asiatics are among the best. Their breeding for short LA hybrids has yield some outstanding selections. And oh my, the stem strength is unbelievable – you can grasp them by the stems and walk around all day. No support will be needed. Take a look, give them a try.