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National Garden Bureau declares 2015 the ‘Year of the Gaillardia.’

Every year, the National Garden Bureau chooses an annual, a perennial and an edible plant to highlight. Selections are chosen because “they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile.” This year, gaillardias gets their turn in the spotlight.

Individual flowers of gaillardias are exquisite – their petals look as if their edges were gently torn and then lightly stroked with a paintbrush dipped in yellow. A mass of these daisy-like flowers, in colors of red, orange and yellow, incite a riot of color in the perennial border all summer and into fall.

Planting & Care:

Commonly called blanket flowers, gaillardias are easy to grow if given a spot in the garden with well-drained soil and lots of sunshine. If you have heavy clay soil, amend it with lots of compost before planting. Once established, gaillardias rarely need supplemental watering. Mother Nature generally supplies all they need. An extra layer of mulch will help them through their first winter in the garden.

Although they don’t require deadheading, plants will flower more profusely if spent blooms are removed. Deadheading may also lengthen the life of the plant. Divide plants every two or three years in the spring or fall. Seedlings that appear around parent plants can be transplanted to other areas in the garden or left in place to naturalize.

Planting Companions:

Plants with upright spikes of flowers contrast nicely with the mounding form of gaillardias. Try Salvia ‘May Night’ for a cooled-down combo or turn up the heat when it’s planted with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. Fine-textured perennials, like Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ or Sisyrinchium ‘Devon Skies’, contrast beautifully with gaillardias’ coarse foliage.

Gaillardias are also suited for a meadow garden where their cute-as-a-button flowers join a host of butterfly-attracting flowers. They can also add bursts of color to plantings of ornamental grasses. Their non-stop flowering also makes them good candidates for container gardens.

Varieties to Grow:

Arizona Sun boasts masses of fiery orange red flowers ringed with bright yellow. Crimson red blooms, some with yellow margins, cover the compact plants of Arizona Red Shades. Oranges and Lemons sports peachy-orange flowers with lemon yellow edges.

Add a few blanket flowers to your landscape this year to celebrate the Year of the Gaillardia!

Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ is named 2015 Perennial of the Year!

Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ is the deserving recipient of the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year. Every year since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has chosen a perennial for this award. To win, the plant must be suitable to grow in a large part of the country and require little maintenance. It must be resistant to both pests and disease and have multiple seasons of interest. Finally, the perennial must be easy to propagate.

From late spring to early summer, masses of pink-tinged white flowers cover round lobed foliage. After the initial floral flush, its sweet blossoms pop up sporadically the rest of the summer.

Biokovo spreads by underground rhizomes forming a lush, glossy, mounding mat that limits weed growth. Rarely reaching more than twelve inches tall, it is ideally suited for the front of the border, in rock gardens and to cover ground between shrubs or large perennials.

It grows best in average, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. The foliage ordinarily remains attractive all season, but can be sheared back to promote the growth of fresh leaves if necessary. In the fall, the foliage contributes brilliant hues of orange and scarlet to the landscape.

And Biokovo is easy to divide. Its shallow roots are easy to dig and move to other spots in the garden.

Undemanding and weed-choking with appealing flowers and dazzling fall foliage – it’s no surprise that Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ is the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year. Consider adding some (or some more) to your landscape this year.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

Each new year is like a blank garden journal. The past, and all the lessons learned from it, are in last year’s writings. The future, along with its limitless possibilities, remains unwritten in this new volume. While considering the goals for your garden in 2015, why not make a few resolutions for the landscape?

Instead of broad promises like I’ll be a greener gardener, or I won’t neglect the shade garden, choose specific tasks that you will be able to accomplish.

Here are a few ideas to get your own gardening wheels turning.

Winter Gardening:
1) Compost kitchen waste.
2) Prune dead, diseased or broken branches from trees.
3) Start growing some plants from seed – vegetables, annuals or perennials.
4) Notice landscape views from indoors and make plans to improve them.
5) Make time to read garden books to increase knowledge or gain inspiration.
Spring Gardening:
1) Start cool-season vegetables as soon as possible and continue to sow seeds every two weeks for a continual supply of fresh veggies.
2) Set up a rain barrel to collect spring rains.
3) Plant a tree in the front yard (or back or side yard).
4) Compost garden clippings.
5) Mulch, mulch, mulch.
Summer Gardening:
1) Don’t let weeds go to seed.
2) Edge borders so the landscape has a finished look.
3) Deadhead annuals and perennials for continued bloom.
4) Plant more annuals and perennials for pollinators.
5) Add more low-maintenance plants to the landscape.
6) Cut flowers from the garden for indoor floral arrangements.
Fall Gardening:
1) Bring tender plants indoors BEFORE the first frost.
2) Collect fall leaves and make leaf mold.
3) Plant more bulbs for spring color.
4) Add more evergreens to the landscape for color in the winter garden.
5) Plant more shrubs with berries for birds taking shelter in your winter landscape.
6) Properly care for garden tools before putting them away for winter.
Year-round Gardening:
1) Walk through the garden at least once a week just for enjoyment (not to perform tasks).
2) Visit at least one public or private garden each month.
3) Volunteer time at a community or school garden.
4) Reduce or eliminate the use of fungicides and insecticides.
5) Forgive garden failures – feel fortunate for the lessons learned.
6) Spend more gardening dollars at local independent garden centers.

Happy New Garden Year!

We’ll see you in spring!

The Planter’s Palette garden center is closed for the winter and will reopen on April 1, 2015. The office is also closed until January 12. From January 12 to March 31, the office will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff will be available to answer gardening questions and help with gift card purchases. Stop in the office or call 630-293-1040 ext. 2 during these hours. Thanks for your business in 2014 and THINK SPRING! To keep up with us during the winter, join us on Facebook. Click on the link, like us, and watch us plan, plant and get ready for the 2015 season.

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