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Kip Anderson
Gardener Kip Anderson

August: A Few Good Flowers

Kip reports back on some new plant varieties he ordered this past winter
by Kip Anderson

Every winter I go through the current seed catalogs to see what new and interesting varieties are being offered for the upcoming season, and I list the ones that seem most promising right here, in this monthly column. But I don't think I've ever reported back to you about how the plants actually performed in my garden. It's probably a good thing that new varieties constitute less than 10 percent of what is listed in any given catalog, for this has made it possible for me to grow most of them and decide whether I want to grow them again. Over the years, I have compiled a short "must-grow" list of flower and vegetable cultivars, and I'm sure I've written about and recommended them in the past. In the last couple of years, two new annual flower cultivars have been added to the list.

In 2006 Salvia farinacea 'Evolution' was an All America Selections award winner. It is similar in habit to the old standard, Salvia 'Victoria', but its flower spikes are fuller and more numerous. Their color is more vibrant than those of 'Victoria', a rich hue in the purple/violet range rather than the familiar somewhat subdued indigo. 'Evolution' is a real stand-out in the flower border.

Zinnia 'White Wedding' was introduced by Burpee in 2007. For years I had pretty much given up on large-flowered zinnias as bedding plants, resigned to using small-flowered varieties such as 'Profusion' and 'Star White', but 'White Wedding' has changed all that. The plants are robust and sturdy, and so far there has been no sign of any foliage disease. The four-inch dahlia-style flowers are a pure cream color, and they last for weeks—I deadhead them only because they eventually get buried under new growth bearing a fresh set of bloom.

Here at The Victory Garden, we are always looking for a few good flowers.

Kip Anderson has been the Victory Garden's head gardener for over 20 years.

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Published August 31, 2007