New for 2021
When I was a young gardener my grandmother and mother both would always have a scented geranium at the edge of the garden or in a little pot on the patio. I remember my mother handing a leaf of a rose scented geranium to me. She would rub it between her fingers and we would both breath in the sweet scent. We would put the leaves in sugar to infuse it with the wonderful scent.
Scented geraniums were prized in the Victorian era as well. It was not uncommon to see a leaf or bloom from a scented geranium in a nosegay or bouquet to add a wonderful scent. The stunning bouquet pictured at the right was created by South County Flowers combining the sweet scent of the geranium with dahlias.
Scented geraniums are available in many scents including lemon, nutmeg, orange, coconut, hazelnut, strawberry and citronella. They are related to the geranium that you would find in the center of a planter with large blooms but the flower heads on the scented geraniums are often small and not noteworthy. It is the scent from their leaves that makes them stand out. The leaves can be used in cooking as well as at the edge of a garden bed, in a container or as a cut flower to add to arrangements.
'Atomic Snowflake' which is a rose and lemon scented variety and 'Lemon Scented' both have trailing habits. They would make a great addition to a hanger or as a stand alone plant in a hanging basket. Atomic snowflake has lavender flowers as well. Both of these varieties will be available in the shop this year.
We have added a few more varieties of Thunbergia for 2021. they will be available in 4 1/2" pots as well as 10" pots. Thunbergia is a showy annual vine in the Northeast US. It will climb on a fence and make a brilliant backdrop for a garden bed. Add Thunbergia in the center of a large large planter on a cylinder, obelisk or cone shaped trellis for a unique look.
Last year we added Thunbergia to a few of our large hanging baskets. The picture at the right is one of the combinations baskets from 2020 right before it went to its new home. Note the Thunbergia is just starting to trail underneath it, coordinating with the plants on the top. These baskets massive and loaded with flowers. We will have a few more combinations of these large hanging baskets in addition to the one pictured here.
I might have gone a little crazy on adding varieties this year. (Excess is best, right?)
We LOVE Pineapple Tomatillos and decided to add quite a few more varieties of tomatillos to see how they all taste and perform. Most people who have tried the Pineapple Tomatillos come back for more the next year. They are a little different from a tomato, growing in a paper husk on a bushy low plant that does great in a large container. They taste the sweetest when they are harvested once they fall from the plant. If kept in their husk up until when you eat them they will keep for a couple weeks.
We have made blueberry-like muffins with them but we love them most fresh in our lunch or in a sweet and fruity salsa for fish. They are a fruity little pop in your mouth, very sweet. Even kids love them and they are fun to harvest.
Nepal is a red, intense, full flavor heirloom tomato that was added. Tomato expert, Craig LeHoullier, states in his book, Epic Tomatoes, 'Nepal is the tomato that converted me from hybrids to heirlooms. It is a tomato that is perhaps most like those special tomatoes tasted in our youth, obtained at local farm stands or a relative's garden'. Of course we need to try this!
Gary Ibsen, founder and executive director of the Carmel Tomatofest located in Carmel, California was kind enough to allow us to use some of his copyrighted photos for our new online store. Gary grows over 600 varieties of tomatoes each year and harvests the seeds. Most of our seeds are purchased from Tomatofest. It is so important to purchase seed from a reputable company with careful seed harvesting procedures so that seeds germinate and are correctly labeled. Gary Ibsen is one of the top tomato experts in the world and any tomato he likes, we want to try. We added Dagma's Perfection, named after his wife, Sunset's Red Horizon and Brandywine OTV because they are a few of his favorites. Brandywine OTV (Off The Vine) is thought by many to be the absolute best Brandywine. We have always loved Brandywine Sudduth with beautiful pink tomatoes and potato leaf foliage. We will see how the OTV strain compares in our trial garden this summer.
Avid gardener Tom Trueb of Ellington, CT suggested Big Mama Paste tomatoes. Amish Paste has always been a favorite paste tomato but we keep looking for the biggest, meatiest paste tomato out there. We also added San Marzano (original) to the San Marzano Redorta that we have had for years. Just wanted to grow them side by side to see if the Redorta is actually bigger and a better performer.
Finally, we added almost the entire lineup of Chef's Choice tomatoes. We carried Chef's Choice Red and it did wonderfully in our field trials. It is a hybrid but was flavorful, producing an abundance of smooth red tomatoes. We added Chef's Choice Orange, Yellow and Black. All were AAS Winners so we wanted to try them all to see if they are as good as the Red.
As for peppers we added 2016 AAS winner Cornito Giallo, an adorable frying pepper. Looks to be similar to Gypsy. Tennessee Cheese is an interesting red, lobed sweet pepper that we grew last year and loved it. It is an open pollinated heirloom. Makes a cute little stuffing pepper and the flavor is sweet. We also found a purple jalapeno variety to try.
Our herb list continues to grow each year. This year we added Apple, Ginger, Strawberry, Peppermint and Orange Mint. Mojito Mint continues to be a favorite every year. It is perfect for muddling in drinks or water without being too overpowering.
Three new basil varieties are Dark Opal, Dani Lemon and Siam Queen (AAS Winner).
Thyme is a great plant that is generally hardy in the Northeast. Aside from cooking, Thyme is ornamental and a PAP (Pollinator Attracting Plant). Shorter varieties are often used in between field stones in walkways or at the edge of a garden. They also look great in a container with other herbs or in a kitchen garden. We have added Creeping Red, Foxley, French, Lemon, Orange and Wine & Roses this year.