For plants on the ‘out’ list, it’s auf wiedersehen

Late summer is a good time for garden observation. Most garden chores involve watering dramatic plants in containers that have become too small as their roots grow to fill the pots and deadheading to keep the flower show growing. Fortunately both of these jobs allow for a lot of looking around.

I spend a lot of this observation time making mental notes about the new varieties of plants I’m growing. And while what I do in my garden would never be considered a proper trial, my snap judgements can be brutal. Just like Heidi Klum used to say on “Project Runway,” you’re either in or you’re out.

On the “in” list are a handful of annuals, including Cuphea Sweet Talk Deep Pink. This plant has bloomed nonstop, and although its open pink flowers don’t create as much enthusiasm in hummingbirds as the tubular flowers of some Cuphea, its still one of the most visited plants in the garden.

It’s just starting to peak in the last week or so, but a new-to-me Dahlia is the stuff that dreams are made of. ‘Kelgai Ann’ is a waterlily form dahlia that looks like a combination of a peony and a rose. Its flowers stand about 3 feet tall, which is perfect for examining its exquisite blooms. It’s a blush color, which can be a challenge in my very colorful late summer garden, but perched at the front of the border it’s a showstopper.

A pair of new Begonia hybrids have also been knocking my socks off. Surefire Cherry Cordial and Surefire White are the latest additions to Proven Winners’ Surefire line and both are outstanding in sun as well as part shade. Cherry Cordial, which sports shiny, dark chocolate foliage and cherry colored flowers has outgrown the Euphorbia I planted with it, and I’m not mad about it. Surefire White shows more of its green foliage than its cousins, but it has grown into a 24-inch tall and wide mass with nonstop blooms.

In the vegetable garden, I’ve found another must-grow tomato called ‘Pinky Cherry,’ which produces the most beautiful long trusses — I counted 18 on one —  of sweet tomatoes that look like miniature heirloom tomatoes.

But the “out” list has a few additions from the vegetable garden as well.

I was so excited about ‘Incredible Escalator’ climbing zucchini because I thought it would solve the space issue common to most enormous zucchini plants. Unfortunately it has produced only one zucchini so far, which is just not going to make it worthy of any space in the garden.

I was also disappointed in ‘Green Light’ cucumber, which was promised to be a small, skinny mini cucumber. Unfortunately even when picked at about 4 inches long, they were rotund, quite seedy and not particularly good tasting.

My “perform or be booted” gardening strategy may not be the fairest test of a plant, but garden space is precious and the growing season is short. And I only have so much time standing around watering to decide a plant’s fate.


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