Stunning spring additions for baskets and cutting

Every year we eagerly look forward to spring to see what new wonders the gardening world has created. This year will be no exception. There are a few stunners you won’t want to miss.


With frilly petals and a deeper, veiny center, Spellbound series Petunia has five-inch blossoms that remind us of flowers far more exotic. ‘Wine Red’ is stunning with its beauty, and then you see ‘White Blush’, which gets lightly flushed edges as the summer heat increases. The petals are offset by a crazy, veiny, dark purple centre. These are two gorgeous petunias that you will want to put in baskets that can be moved because it is my experience that these large petalled petunias often don’t hold up well in the rain. Put the basket in full sun. They will grow 8 to 14 inches and spread 12 to 22 inches.

Superbells Calibrachoa is a reliable little beauty and seems to take exceptionally well to hybridization. There are some new choices this year. ‘Doublette Love Swept’, a doubled pink picotee,  outlined with white seems to make it on every list.  ‘Cardinal Star’, is a gentle red striped with yellow; ‘Holy Cow!’ and ‘Holy Smokes!’ are splotchy pink (Cow) or purple (Smokes) with the yellow throat spilling slightly out of the centre; ‘Double Chiffon’, is light yellow and fully doubled; and ‘Tangerine Punch’, is a single apricot with deep burgundy centres leading to yellow throats. All are gorgeous and have the usual attributes of calibrachoa. They’re good in hanging baskets and planters, cascading over the edges. Their height is 6 to 12 inches, trailing to 24 inches. Place your basket in part to full sun.

The cutting garden

A few years ago, doubled cosmos were introduced. I was impressed then and now I am even more impressed with ‘Double Click Bicolour Violet’ Cosmos. These fully double flowers are deep purple and white surrounding golden centers, and they bloom forever. This is a great addition to the cutting garden, and the more you cut, the more they’ll bloom. They need full sun. Height 24 to 40 inches, spread 14 to 16 inches.  ‘Mandarin Orange’ is another cosmos to look for. It has semi-double, bright orange blooms! Growing 10 to 12 inches tall, they have a spread of 8 to 10 inches. Plant these fast growing annuals in full sun from seed. Burpee carries both varieties.

In the cutting garden, you might want to add the somewhat tender hyssop or Agastache. I have grown these quiet stalwarts of the garden in the past, and they came back even though they are rated zone 4 or 5 — just make sure to plant them in a sheltered location. If not, they are worth growing as an annual as they are an amazing butterfly and hummingbird magnet. In addition to the traditional blue, the Poquito series now comes in ‘Butter Yellow’, ‘Dark Blue’, ‘Lavender’ and ‘Orange’. Hyssop in very aromatic and they bloom from mid-summer through frost in full sun. Height and spread to 14 inches.

For pots and gardens, who wouldn’t want the new sedum ‘Lemon Coral’, which light up its surroundings with lemon yellow foliage? You can use it in pots and hanging containers where it will spilll over the sides in a pleasing way, or plant it en masse in the garden to showcase other flowers. It will work especially well in formal beds.


Coneflower is so hardy and now comes in so many varieties. An interesting and unusual perennial, but bred from our native plant, is Echinacea ‘Green Twister’. It has a big brown cone centre with rays of petals that start out pink then fade to lime green on the outer edges. Very eye catching and it blooms from July to September.

Thinking again of that late summer to fall garden, we cannot forget our other native, Gaillardia or blanket flower. There is a plethora of varieties ranging in colour from red to maroon to gold yellow. They can really brighten a dull day

Finally, not new but one of my favourites is obedient plant. There is a lovely white variety called ‘Miss Manners’ that is worth adding to your moon garden. It well behaved and does not travel like some of the others do and it will grow in part shade.

Happy flower hunting.

Dorothy Dobbie is the publisher of the Manitoba Gardener magazine. You can call 204-940-2700 for a subscription, which is now available in both print and digital format for mobile devices.