with Deryn Thorpe
Spring is one of the most exciting times for plant shopping as the nurseries show off a range of new plant introductions. Most of the new plants are varieties introduced to Australia after showing strong sales in Europe or America.
This year one of the loveliest new varieties is a Dianthus called 'Memories'. It grows to less than 30cm, making it good for pots and has pure white flowers from spring to autumn with a spicy fragrance. One dollar from every plant sold is donated to the Alzheimer's Australia Dementia Research Foundation.
Below are some of my favourite new releases over the past few years. All will grow well in full sun or part shade.
Pelargonium 'Big Red': Also known as Geranium 'Big Red', this plant is a cross between a zonal and ivy form pelargonium which gives it a rounded, slightly weeping habit. It grows 30cm to 45cm tall and 40cm to 50cm wide with big clusters of intensely-red flowers. It promises flower from spring to autumn but my potted specimens flower year round. It looks fantastic in hanging baskets, large pots and garden beds and is heat and drought tolerant. New forms of this plant, including 'Big Pink', are also available.
Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance': Bred in England, this variety is less temperamental than Daphne odora species but shares the exquisite fragrance. Its main flush of white flowers appear in spring but the plant also spot flowers throughout the warmer months. Plants grow to 60cm with a spread to 90cm. Plants are frost hardy and tolerant of dry conditions.
Polygala 'Little Bibi': has a display of dense, fresh green leaves and flowers year round with pretty, mauve, pea flowers, with a spectacular show in spring. This dwarf form is half the size of the species and grows to 1m tall and wide, making it suitable for pots and hedging.
Salvia Wish collection: This comprises three identical salvias with different coloured flowers. Plants are fast growing to about 80cm tall and wide and flower for most of the year. 'Wendy's Wish' has magenta flowers, 'Ember's Wish' coral flowers and 'Love and Wishes' deep purple blooms. Part proceeds of their sale go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Australia for children with life threatening medical conditions.
'The Princess' Lavender: Hot pink flowers with feathery bracts are held above the grey-green foliage in spring and summer. 'The Princess' was bred in Victoria and is a compact and dense form growing to 70cm tall and wide. It was chosen as the 2014 Australian Plant of the Year at the Nursery and Garden Industry Awards.