Gardeners are always on the lookout for new plants, and this year is no different. The National Garden Bureau offers a glance at new varieties for 2002, which are featured in mail-order seed catalogs. Many will soon be available as seed packets or later as bedding plants at garden centers.
There's no need to pack a bag to get a sense of a delightful getaway. Just plant Sweet Pea April in Paris for flowers that offer exotic, romantic qualities.
This plant is the perfect blend of fragrance, form and color. Large, waxy blossoms are soft primrose cream with a lilac edge that deepens and increases with age.
Sweet Pea April in Paris brings intense scent into exhibition blossoms. It is long-stemmed, vigorous and prolific. Seeds are available from Renee's Garden (www.reneesgarden.com).
Roselike flowers that are fully double give Begonia F1 Queen Pink a name that says it all. This is the first seed-produced begonia series that has consistent double blooms. Begonia F1 Queen Pink performs well in all weather extremes with superior vigor.
Begonias favor fertile, well-drained, humus-rich soil that is neutral to slightly acidic. Plant them in partial shade or in a location that is out of direct sunlight. Queen Pink's spreading habit makes it glorious in the garden and drapes regally from hanging baskets. This fine plant will be available this spring at garden centers.
Gardeners on a never-ending search for blue flowers will welcome Impatiens Dazzler Blue Pearl. Masses of 1 1/2-inch bluish-lilac blooms on rich green foliage form on this compact plant.
Impatiens Dazzler Blue Pearl has a uniform habit that thrives in flower beds and containers. It flowers freely right up until frost. The plant grows well in shady locations in humus-rich, moist soil.
It benefits from monthly fertilizer applications, especially during periods of growth. Look for Impatiens Dazzler Blue Pearl bedding plants this spring at garden centers.
Vegetables are making a splash this year, too, with an emphasis on flavor, size and color.
Gardeners who love multicolor plants should consider Lettuce Red Iceberg. Slightly ruffled, green leaves give way to a burgundy outer edge, creating a kaleidoscope of color.
This crisp-head lettuce has leaves that appear to dance away from the 4- to 6-inch tight heads.
Lettuce Red Iceberg is ready in 70 to 80 days. It has a nice, mild flavor. Seeds are available from Territorial Seed Co. (www.territorialseed.com).
Tasty enough for salads but large enough to serve as a meal, Pepper F1 Super Heavyweight is a champion newcomer. It definitely lives up to its name. It is the biggest, heaviest, thickest-walled, sweetest bell pepper you've ever seen. It is a perfect specimen to grow for entry into the county fair or if you are seeking to break a record.
Super Heavyweight makes a giant stuffed pepper ideal for serving at dinner for guests. The fruit matures in about 77 days and turns gold.
Fans of big vegetables will appreciate the new summer squash. Summer Squash F1 Super Zuke is a zucchini that doesn't have to be picked small to taste good.
Super Zuke can be harvested at 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Then put it on the summer grill, bake it, slice it in stews or toss it fresh into salads.
Stay tuned. There are plenty more new introductions for 2002. We'll take our final look next week.
Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and home and garden writer for the Journal-World.