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How Does Your Garden Grow? New on the scene for 2013

Welcome to another year of “How Does Your Garden Grow?” presented by the DeKalb County Master Gardeners. This is an exciting time of year for gardeners as we discover the new trends and explore the new and newly available offerings in the plant world. Let’s get started.

Interesting new terms define the 2013 gardening scene with the largest emphasis on garden makeovers, restorative gardens, urban farming and naturescaping.

The garden makeover concept is on the rise as busy gardeners look to reduce the amount of maintenance required for a successful garden. Gardens needing less deadheading, pruning and frequent watering are becoming more desirable. Are you tired of back-breaking garden chores? Simplify your garden area with raised beds and containers to reduce heavy digging. Dwarf forms of trees, shrubs and flowers make pruning much easier. Planting bulbs for long-term growth needs much less tending.

The restorative or home therapy garden provides a haven from our daily, hectic pace. This garden is designed simply for relaxation and enjoyment.

Urban farming is increasing in popularity. More and more people are growing their own vegetables and fruits and achieving great satisfaction from harvesting their homegrown produce. Pick up any gardening catalog today and notice that the vegetable and fruit portion of the catalog is suddenly much larger than the flower section.

The 2012 Chelsea Garden Show in England heralded a return of emphasis on wildflowers and native plants. The effect of this 2012 decision is now being seen here with a rebirth of interest in native plants. Naturescaping is a trend that makes gardening easier because of the durability and ease of growing these plants. Less maintenance and drought resistance also are important factors. Prominently included in this year’s catalogs and garden magazines are the native plants and wildflowers specifically grown to attract and support butterflies in jeopardy such as the Monarch.

Now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting new plants for 2013.

Sun annuals receiving a lot of coverage include angelonia “Statuesque Blue,” calibrachoas “Lemon Slice” and “Peach Cobbler,” petunia “Glamouflage” and sunflower “Solar Flair.” Begonia “Sparks Will Fly” received the most attention. This is a shade annual that has tangerine colored blooms with striking dark green foliage. This charming annual blooms from spring through summer.

The 2013 perennial plant of the year is “Variegated Soloman Seal.” This is a great plant for shade or a woodland situation. The foliage grows to 2 feet and remains attractive in the garden all season. In the spring, small white bells hang down all along the length of the leaf structure. Solomans Seal has no serious pest or disease problems.

Other perennials frequently mentioned include the All American Selection echinacea “Cheyenne,” coreopsis “Mercury Rising,” verbascum “Blue Lagoon” and gaura “Red Butterflies.” Dramatic, hardy hibiscus “Midnight Marvel” seemed to engender the most buzz. This 4-by-4 shrub-like perennial has vibrant red flowers set off rich purple foliage. It requires moist soil and also can be grown in a large container.

Two shrubs of interest this year are lilac “Josee” and hydrangea “Bobo. “Josee” is a fragrant, re-blooming lilac. It blooms heavily in the late spring and if well watered will bloom intermittently from summer to frost. “Bobo” is smaller than most hydrangeas at 3 feet tall. Its large flowers are supported by strong stems.

Clematis “Sweet Summer” is a new vine worth mentioning. It is fragrant and is a delightful combination of violet and cranberry blooms. It will be released this year, however, only limited quantities will be available initially.

The All American Rose Selection committee has chosen “Frances Meiland” as the 2013 rose of the year. It is named for the breeder of the best-known and much loved “Peace” rose. Coming out of a successful two-year testing program, the “Frances Meiland” tea rose is a beautiful pink, very fragrant and also disease resistant.

There are many new trends and plants on the scene for 2013. As gardeners, we can explore makeover gardening, restorative and therapy design, urban farmer projects or naturescaping.

Let’s create some new garden designs with “Midnight Marvel,” “Sparks Will Fly,” “Mercury Rising” and little “Bobo.” Sounds like fun. Enjoy!

• For questions or comments about this article, home gardening or about the Master Gardener program, call the Master Gardeners c/o University of Illinois Extension, DeKalb County office at 815-758-8194 or email 

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