Sunday, July 3, 2011

BBQ and begonias?

Happy July 4th to everyone! I also want to celebrate another great American July 4th weekend tradition -- getting out in the garden. Whether you're wanting to add some color to your back yard for a get together you're hosting or using the extra day off to work in the garden, beautifying the yard is a time honored tradition. As we enter this long weekend, expecting the heat, I also think of staying cool in the shade. And shade brings to mind great plants for these shady spots. There are many but here I want to draw your attention to two groups of plants that hold surprises. Say begonias & fuchsias and many people think of the bedding begonias, or perhaps the colorful tuberous types, and for fuchsias the pink, red & purple hanging basket fuchsias. These plants are just the tip of the iceberg. For begonias, consider adding one or more cane-type begonias to your garden. These mostly upright species can reach six feet, although most are in the three foot height range, and feature striking, large leaves. Right at the top of the list for me is Begonia 'Irene Nuss,' which showcases attractive palmate leaves with gorgeous purple undersides and clusters of pink flowers. The list of Angelwing begonias as they are sometimes referred to is a long one, many with spotted leaves, some with white flowers. All are showy, make great container plants and are easy to care for.
And then there are the species fuchsias. The choice among these generally larger-sized fuchsias is impressive. My favorite is F. Nettala, a vigorous semi-climbing fuchsia that can reach seven feet, has attractive red stems and has unusual but super cool red flowers. Seemingly a world apart, F. thymifolia has tiny delicate leaves and cute little bright pink flowers and forms a dense bush to four feet tall. The list of these true species fuchsias is a long one but places like our Grand Lake Ace Garden Center have a good collection to peruse. And unlike some of the hybrids, species fuchsias are much hardier and less prone to fuchsia mite. As the saying goes, so many flowers, so little time!

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