New Plants

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(HOST)Spring is fast approaching and commentator Charlie Nardozzi says there are lots of new varieties of flowers and vegetables that could spruce up your garden and yard this year.

(NARDOZZI) One of the most fun parts of my work is perusing the various gardening web sites and catalogs looking for the best new varieties of vegetables and flowers. I’m no soothsayer, but I believe I’ve found a few that will make any garden shine this summer. Here are my picks for 2006.

I’ve always had a fondness in my heart and my stomach for vegetables. This is the Year of the Chili Pepper, so I’m going to grow some not just for the hot peppers but for their decorative qualities as well. While purple leaf and fruit colored hot peppers are not new, ‘Black Pearl’ is a new variety that touts jet-black foliage. The black color doesn’t fade in the mid summer heat and the plant looks stunning when the black pepper fruits mature to red. And the flavor is spicy hot to boot. Another pepper I’m going to try is ‘Carmen’. This is a sweet, Italian bull’s horn-type pepper with six-inch long fruits that turn red quickly in summer. There’s nothing better than Italian peppers sauteed in olive oil and garlic for dipping with fresh Italian bread. To add a piquant flavor to my Mexican and Indian dishes, ‘Delfino’ cilantro’ will be growing in my window boxes. It’s a new fern leaf cilantro that is bushy and slow to bolt. That means more cilantro leaves and fewer stalks.

On the flower front there are a few new annuals I’m going to grow.
I love zinnias and ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ zinnia lives up to its flamboyant name. ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ grows two to three feet tall and produces large, four-inch diameter zinnia flowers with yellow and red coloring on the petals. It’s a great cut flower.

There are so many new types of annuals available it’s hard to keep track of them all. ‘Diascia’ is a small flowered, South African plant that looks great grown in hanging baskets or containers. ‘Diamonte Coral Rose’ is a new diascia that features small, tubular coral rose-colored flowers on a tough plant that can withstand a light frost.

On the tropical front, ‘Brugmansia’ or ‘Angel’s Trumpets’ have always been a favorite of mine. These tropical trees can grow huge in warm climates. In our climate they’re best grown in containers to get the most growth and flowering before fall. Unfortunately, most of the varieties take a while to flower and do so sporadically; reducing the amount of time you have to enjoy the fragrant flowers. However, ‘Inca Sun’ brugmansia is different. It grows only three to four feet tall and starts flowering when it’s only two feet tall. The soft yellow colored, fragrant “trumpet” flowers catch the attention of your eye and nose. It’s a great plant to have growing on your deck while sipping lemonade during a warm summer night. Ahhh, well, I think I’m ready for spring.

Charlie Nardozzi is an all-around gardening expert with a special fondness for tomatoes and roses.

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