gmtoday_small.gif

 


On Gardening: Surfinias, Waves and some Raspberry Blasts create a party atmosphere

June 20, 2016
 

It is one thing to go to a botanical garden for plant and design ideas but you may just pick up some tips from your local shopping center, if they are into flowers. I was visiting one such center in Columbus, Ga., and couldnít take my eyes off the baskets, containers and beds. Iíve experienced this horticultural ecstasy if you will, in similar shopping centers in Carmel, Calif., and Birmingham, Ala.

This day however was like Surfin USA with Wave petunias, Surfinias and finishing it off with a Raspberry Blast or two. It has been around 20 years since the Waves made their debut and quickly followed by Surfinias. Both have literally exploded in popularity. The first time I wrote about Surfinias there were five colors and today the series boast dozens of selections.

Recently I have written about Supertunias like Vista Bubblegum and Vista Fuchsia both among the leaders in trial awards but the Supertunia Raspberry Blast is another outstanding selection with a staggering 116 awards. With Waves, Surfinias and Supertunias the gardener is getting the best trailing petunias available for baskets and mixed containers whether at a shopping center or for home on the porch, patio or deck. Though I am touting trailing selections or those used as spiller, each of these series also has those that are compact, mounding and some even with double blooms.

Whether it was Carmel, Birmingham or those in Columbus, the regimen was the same and one we can copy. The soil drainage was perfect, watering was done early before customers arrived and of course there was an almost constant feeding as nutrients are-subject to leaching. Since we donít have shoppers we can dawdle somewhat on watering our containers, but not too long if you are like me sitting with triple digit heat indices.

But what I like most about the commercial horticulturistís designs is the boldness with flower and foliage companions. They are so riveting in color that there is a festive feeling when shopping or sitting at a sidewalk restaurant. You get that sense of being on vacation instead of simply shopping. We can achieve much the same feeling at home as well. Consider it to be like a Staycation, a festive Rio like Carnival, but right in our own backyard.

The containers that had me so mesmerized featured not only these trailing petunias but foliage plants like the recently introduced Kong Junior coleus, or another new selection called Coleosaurus. There were elephant ears like Maui Gold and Calidora. The baskets were filled to the max with petunias, begonias, scaevolas and lantanas as the horticultural artist created his vision. But with almost every basket or container it was the trailing petunia that first reached out and grabbed your attention.

The petunia wasn't a flower that was considered commercial landscape tough until about 20 years ago. This changed with series like the Waves, Surfinias, and Supertunias. These new vigorous, spreading plants now give the gardener petunias that will dazzle like few other plants. If you need some good ideas on combinations and designs, there just may be a popular shopping center near you where the flowers will make you think you are on vacation.

 

 


McClatchy-Tribune