is the year of the petunia — and echinacea and cucumber. That’s
according to the National Garden Bureau, which highlights one annual,
one perennial and one edible each year. The national gardening
nonprofit chooses the plants based on their popularity, variety, ease
of growth, adaptability and versatility.
season nearly upon us, we’ve asked local landscape designers for
tips on incorporating the NGB’s 2014 plants into your own home
versatile flower available in a multitude of colors, the petunia has
long been a favorite annual among home gardeners. "Petunias are
an easy way to add color to your yard," says Chris Oberndorfer,
owner of Oberndorfer Landscape Development in Mequon.
Easy to grow and
maintain, petunias can be planted as a border or en masse to add color
and fill space in home landscapes. "They’re a great filler
plant since they’re low-growing and tend to spread,"
Oberndorfer says. "I like to plant four or five flats at a
Described by the
NGB as the perfect go-to gardening friend for sunny places, petunias
also work well in containers like hanging baskets and window boxes.
"Petunias are such great performers," says John Erdmann,
owner of Terra Tec in Richfield. "They deliver a nice punch of
color wherever they’re used."
staple, echinacea is available in a variety of colors and shapes.
Commonly known as the coneflower, this popular perennial is daisy-like
in appearance but has a more prominent, spiky cone surrounded by
designers typically use echinacea in planting beds as a way to provide
multiseason color, texture and shape. Oberndorfer prefers to use
echinacea in landscape borders or as a background flower.
"Echinacea works well in mixed beds since it blooms in late
summer," he says.
A hearty flower
that is generally drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, Erdmann says
echinacea is a great way to ensure continuous color into the fall.
Among his favorite varieties are All That Jazz, Harvest Moon and Maui
Sunshine. "Echinacea is a great choice for mid- to late summer
when annuals are looking a little spent," he says.
One of the top
five most popular vegetables, cucumbers are a staple in backyard
vegetable patches. Typically divided into three categories —
pickling, slicing and burpless — they come in all shapes, sizes and
colors beyond the standard elongated green varieties.
he likes training the plants to grow vertically on trellises or other
structures to add visual interest to vegetable gardens. "Most
cucumbers have vibrant yellow flowers when they bloom, which creates a
nice focal point," Oberndorfer says.
the burpless varieties because they tend to be sweeter and easier to
digest. He says cucumber plants grow best in mounds — dirt piles
about a foot in diameter and 3 inches high. "It keeps the roots
from getting water-logged," he explains.