A reader responded to a recent post on showy new plants by calling them "gloom busters" - a great term for how just the thought, let alone photos, of fresh new plants dispels January bleakness. So on this soaking wet January day, let's evoke the spirit of spring, with a couple of gloom busting, cravable plants coming on the market in 2011.....
How about a thornless quince (Chaenomeles speciosa 'Orange Storm') with double citrus-shaded blossoms? Old-fashioned shrubs never looked so good as these new quinces without messy fruit or sharp spines - the camellia-like flowers also come in pink and red.They grow to 3-4 feet tall, are tough, hardy, and drought resistant once established, and bloom February through April. I've always loved quince branches and blossoms for flower arranging, but was put off by the size and the spines - not problems with 'Orange Storm'.
Look for this especially beautiful new red and white hellebore hybrid in nurseries soon - Helleborus 'Ice Follies' is beguilingly freckled, new for 2011, and worth tracking down....hellebores are easy care, have evergreen foliage, and will come into bloom in the next few weeks.
And for a dose of summer, how about a new sunflower called 'Snacker' because it produces so many large seeds? Each foot-wide yellow flower is said to produce a pound of seed, surely enough to feed both gardeners and the birds. 'Snacker' grows quickly to about eight feet tall on sturdy stems. You can sow indoors, or outside once threat of frost is past - don't we love that thought?