Petunia is the new black! Our columnist Anna Laurent investigates the "Black Velvet" petunia and its specially bred dark hues. Adored by designers and admired by breeders, the flower is the most recent addition to a trend for black-flowered plants.
The past couple weeks, corpse flowers have been blooming at gardens across the country. Amorphophallus titanum, or titan arum, flowers with the odor of a thousand toxic fumes, the height of two men, and draws crowds as large as any circus. The corpse flower may be most famous in the genus, but more than 170 species of Amorphophallus have been indentified, including a new one earlier this year, found in Madagascar's dry rocky soil.
The Bloomingdale series of Ranunculus from Sakata Seed America sets the standard for Persian buttercups, the luminous tightly packed petals reminiscent of the tissue-paper flowers everyone makes in grade school. Their dainty looks are deceiving, though, as these flowers are durable and long lasting. I saw them during Pack Trials in Northern California, holding their own in gale-force winds.
Think purple heart is old hat? Try this new version from Hort Couture with oversized, deep-purple leaves to 3 inches wide. I stumbled on one at a garden center in Atlanta, and it was love at first sight. The graceful way it trails from its container inspires me to try it in a hanging basket.
Jim Martinez has been creating water-wise, environmentally friendly gardens in Dallas and Marfa, Texas for more than 30 years. He picks seven of his favorite plants to grow in desert regions, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Every now and then, we'll be linking to things that we covet. Today's pick is Polka Polka cushion, designed by Abigail Borg, a young Brit, whose retro floral prints manage to have a modern edge with sharp color palettes and delicate botanical detail.