This past Friday evening, I participated in a “Think Spring – Wine & Beer Event” at a local business in my town hosted by Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits and the Golden Gavel Auction House in Broad Brook to help the United Way…and also to get everyone into spring! There were many people from a local corporation in attendance plus many who showed up as a result of seeing my announcements on Facebook last week. Landmark wines was the featured wine created by the great-granddaughter of John Deere tractors, and there were many other selections from organic wine types to brews of many flavors! It was a great kickoff to our daylight savings weekend.
My garden and landscape service offerings were showcased along with displayed container gardens using wine boxes and beer crates on stands to give inspiration. I truly enjoyed putting my first plant combinations together to kick off the season using plants like Tete-A-Tete Narcissus, Kalanchoe Desert Rose, Oxalis (known as Shamrocks), Mijito Mint, and stunning Cyclamen with deep rich burgundy colored blooms, and even upright rosemary I was surprised to see so early at the nursery, plus many more. The plants are beginning to arrive, and I can’t wait to see more.
The sun started to shine earlier that afternoon as I placed my designed container arrangements outside (briefly) to capture some photos. Spring is in the air and soon the temperatures will warm enough to get our spring plantings started. I was very excited to be part of an event that provided folks with information to get them into the new planting season after a rough winter of snow. However, I fully realized it may be a tad difficult to capture the audience’s attention away from their wonderful ‘sipping’ and ‘tastings’ of the many wine and beer selections that evening, so I thought how fun it would be to offer a list of plants with cultivar names coined from wines, spirits, and other libations!
Take Weigela ‘Wine & Roses’ for example, or Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Pinot Grigio’. Or my newest favorite on the scene, an elephant ear with green leaves showing off dark purple flecks that provides a wild pattern on a three-foot high plant for tropical lovers, called Colocasia ‘Mojito’. It is stunning!
There are more plants with libations coming out on the market – and I think it is fun, as fun as tasting varieties of vino! These ‘earthy spirits’, as I called them that evening, are available in the gardening world market place today.
It is not surprising growers or hybridizers sometimes use cocktail themed cultivar names for some have features resemble the flavors and ingredients of spirits. Here’s a sample of the plants I discussed with those who visited me between refreshments on Friday:
Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’: One of the most popular and easy to grow deciduous shrubs. Beautiful, glossy, burgundy-purple foliage accented by hot pink-rose colored flowers in spring. PHS Award Winner. Grows to 4-5’ h x w. Looks great with a backdrop of a white fence! Very popular and well-known among the community of gardeners. I haven’t heard any complaints about this shrub. Love the dark foliage contrast.
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Seward’ SUMMER WINE (Ninebark): Heavenly choice with fine, deeply cut, dark crimson-red leaves covering this compact delight and accented by pinkish-white, button-like flowers in summer. Reaches 5-6’ h & w. Look for it by Proven Winners! Blooms May-June. This shrub’s leaves look great when the sun hits them, place appropriately! Look for a place where the western sun hits the shrub as it goes down so you can see it shimmer during your summer afternoons.
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Pinot Grigio’ (Rose Mallow): Huge snowy white flowers with a touch of pink in the center and along the outer edge. Well-branched plant, 30” for full to part sun. Also see ‘Pinot Noir’ with large red blooms on a compact, sturdy plant. Free flowering at 30” too! And finally ‘Grenache’ with true pink flowers and big blooms! A cocktail of Rose Mallows! Wonderful container plants. Provides that big punch to a combination of plants.
Alcea ‘Crème de Cassis’ (Hollyhock): NEW on the scene, semi-double and single, two toned blooms white with raspberry highlights! Make a stunning addition to the summer garden. Grows up to 6’ H and enjoys the full sun. Cottage garden style, tall and showy! Many whom visited my booth and saw this plant flash on the iPad slide show made comments of how pretty this plant is! I agree.
Geum ‘Double Bloody Mary’: Double red flowers. Grown for attractive hairy foliage and long blooming cheerful flowers in summer. Saucer shaped flowers are held high above foliage on long erect stems. A full sun lover. Drought tolerant too and great for curing a hangover!
Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ (Elephant Ear): NEW on the scene, tropical style plant with amazing, medium green leaves with dark purple flecks for a cool, tropical delight! 3’ H for zone 8 and full sun to part-sun conditions! Have fun with this plant in a container garden on your outdoor patio this upcoming season! Watch the ear-leaves bob in the wind and enjoy the wild pattern on the leaves as you enjoy your Mojito drink!
Heuchera ‘Pinot Gris’ (Coral Bells): NEW! Ginger colored leaves topped with a silvery overlay and deep purple undersides mature to rosy pink with almost black veining and with creamy flowers in summer. A shade perennial. Look for ‘Beaujolais’ too, also new, with burgundy leaves and a touch of silver! Low mound shape, interesting foliage. Heucheras practically come in every color and many patterns, it is a very usable plant when seeking a foliage color impact to combinations.
Ligularia ‘Osiris Café Noir’: Beautiful, thick, serrated leaves in an assortment of colors – olive green, black, purple, bronze, and yellow blooms in summer. 14” height with 20” wide, a large showy foliage plant with tall flowers, for part-sun to shade. One of my favorite perennials, can’t wait to see this new one! Great large foliage type plant because of the huge leaves. I love Ligularias!
Phlox ‘Pina Colada’ (Garden Phlox): Pure white flowers covering this compact darling in summer. It is great for your gardens and containers for full sun. A great perennial for summer. And wonderful with your cool icy cocktails! Add it to your Phlox collection as you talk plants and cocktails at your next entertaining event!
Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’ (Poppy): Iceland Poppies are short-lived perennials coming back year after year from its self-sowing seeds. They bear large satiny flowers for weeks on end, beginning in late spring. This one features a range of pastel shades and bicolor, with especially large blooms. As classy as a tall glass of sparkling champagne!
So as you sip your cocktails during the summer months soon to come on your patio, deck, or by your beautiful gardens, you may want to consider incorporating some of these next on your tastings list! Just google by the latin name to find images on the web, or see me this year for my showings of selections at Cathy T’s Container Parties! Cathy T