We gardeners can taste spring in the air and feel it in our bones. Fortunately, we are lucky to have our heads wisely rein us in, keeping in check for at least a few weeks longer our ever-growing urge to get out into the garden.
We need patience to wait until the last frost date has passed. Nonetheless, there's almost no stopping us now. We are eager to turn the soil, sow a few seeds and put in some bedding plants. Yet, we keep telling ourselves, all in good time.
Our patience will be rewarded. Glorious treats await us in garden centers, seed stores and mail-order catalogs. By the time we finally do venture out into our gardens, we would be smart to include some of the new plants that are available this year. The National Garden Bureau has provided information about the best of the best for 2002.
What says summer in a flower garden better than petunias? These delightful plants with delicate showy flowers are a favorite among gardeners, novices and experienced ones alike. This year, try Petunia Ramblin Peach Glow.
This new petunia series offers a fascinating crawling habit. It grows 8 to 10 inches high and crawls 2 to 3 feet. Try it in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Petunia Ramblin Peach Glow is best grown in full sun or partial shade. This series has four colors and should be available this spring as bedding plants from garden centers.
Taking our cue from plantings in many of our city gardens, Lawrence gardeners have learned that we can hardly go wrong growing salvia in the garden. Two introductions for 2002 promise great performances.
Salvia Marble Arch Mix produces a robust floral display of rose pink, deep blue and white. These impressive floral spikes provide color from July to the end of August. Although Salvia Marble Arch Mix is classified as an annual, these plants will go to seed to produce plants the following year. Seeds are available from McKenzie Seeds (www.mckenzieseeds.com).
Salvia Sahara delivers a small salvia with a striking punch of color. This compact plant has vivid red flower spikes over dark green foliage. Sahara adds striking color in the garden all season and is bred particularly for heat tolerance. Look for bedding plants this spring.
The vegetable garden will snap with flavor and beauty this year every bit as much as plants in the flower garden. First on the list of introductions this year is Mesclun Italian Misticanza, an authentic regional salad mix from Italy.
The full-flavored blend features tangy traditional cutting chicories combined with crispy little endives, balanced by tender, colorful leaf lettuces. Mesclun Italian Misticanza is ready to enjoy in just six weeks. Seeds are available from Renee's Garden (www.reneesgarden.com).
Be sure to plant Pea Garden Sweet. This is the first supersweet garden pea. It starts sweet and stays sweet. Each 3- to 3 1/2-inch pod holds nine or 10 flavorful peas. Plant Garden Sweet at a trellis and watch it grow to 4 feet tall.
Besides the great vegetables from this plant, it has a resistance to powdery mildew. Seeds are available from W. Atlee Burpee & Co. (www.burpee.com).
No matter which of the National Garden Bureau introductions you plant in your garden, you'll have made a wise choice.
Â Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and home
and garden writer for the Journal-World.