It seems winter finally is arriving. I really appreciated that extended fall, or pre-spring, or whatever you like to call it. The mild weather encouraged many spring flowers to break ground, but now they are going to have to retrench and wait for the proper time to start their above-ground growth.
I spent a few joyful hours this week going through my seed catalogs for the first time, looking for the tag "new." Every summer, I try out something - flower or vegetable - I have not seen before, and I have found some treasures that way.
One deal I am certainly going to accept is an offer from Burgess of a vegetable sampler for $5.99, which includes 12 seed packets including black zucchini and Minnesota Midget cantaloupe, which sound intriguing.
They also are advertising a bush-type acorn squash which is appealing to people like me who have limited space.
Park Seed has a bacopa that grows from seed, and this would be a money-saver. It comes in blue, white or a combination of both colors with a multi-seed pellet offer.
Although it is not new, you can purchase seeds of the Easter Egg plant from this company. It is an eggplant variety, the fruit of which is the size, shape and color of eggs. I always grow some near the sidewalk, and many people walking by stop and do a double-take when they see it.
I also found a new trailing pansy named Cool Wave designed for hanging baskets, which comes in lavender or yellow and was developed by the creators of the Wave petunias.
I am going to take a chance on a new runner bean, Runner Moonlight, which is self-pollinating and supposed to be earlier with a high yield.
There is a new habanero called Maya, which has "tongue-searing heat." Although I don't like hot peppers, I am going to start some for my granddaughter's husband, Tom, who makes incendiary jalapeno roll-ups in the summer time.
Henry Field's is a catalog I have ordered from frequently, but this year it is titled "Gurney's Presents Henry Field's," although the contents seem as usual. Some financial dealings there, I suppose.
They have a salute to healthy eating with three new greens - Winterbur kale, Indigo radicchio and Glory endive.
Salt and Pepper is a new award-winning pickling cucumber which is white skinned and has resistance to powdery mildew.
A new sunflower I am going to order is Bohemian Rhapsody Mix with a mix of bi-color 5-foot flowers.
I am looking for interesting shade plants this year, and Jung Seeds' Polar Splash pulmonaria sounds promising, with silver splashes and speckles on dark green leaves. They come as bareroot plants.
A new clematis, which is rather expensive, is Avant-Garde with large semi-double dark red flowers with frilly lavender centers. Here again, multi-seed pellets are offered. This is evidently the new introduction to be noticed this year, and will be helpful when trying to plant tiny seeds. Jung's has them for some petunias, coleus, bacopa and lobelia.
Gurney's is usually my biggest order, mainly because of their offer of $25 off an order of $50, and this year, I plan to include an extraordinary cauliflower. Veronica Hybrid is a bright lime green with lots of tightly pointed spirals and is said to have good heat tolerance. Worth a try.
If I had the space, I would be strongly tempted to try something called 5-Flavor Berry (no botanical name given). Actually it sounds like something advertised in one of those Sunday paper inserts, but anything offered by Gurney's I have always found to be reliable and guaranteed for a year.
This plant is said to grow 3 feet a year, to reach 32 feet. The red berries are described as bitter, salty, sweet, hot and sour, all at once. If anyone knows what this is, please let me know.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.