I never cease to be amazed at the cleverness of marketing folks in naming plants but for those of us who love wine, it’s fun to add plants to the garden that evince this love. So, I’ve decided to talk about a few of the innumerable plants with wine varietals in their names.
I’ll start with a groundcover called Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’. The name refers to the color of the scalloped foliage in the fall. The spring and summer foliage is a mélange of green, white, rose, and pink. The 4-6” showy, violet-blue flower spikes bloom in late April or early May depending on the weather. This semi-evergreen groundcover is lovely en masse and is stoloniferous, thus, an excellent groundcover for shade, even dry shade once established. It is both deer and rabbit resistant as well as drought, heat and salt tolerant. Plant in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade; avoid soggy conditions.
Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’ is an excellent perennial for continuous summer and early fall bloom. However, its name is misleading because the petals of this daisy-like flower are bright red, not wine-red, with a narrow yellow edge and a burgundy ring around the yellow center. The leaves are coarsely toothed at the base. The 12” lax stems contribute to the common name of Blanket Flower. The deadheads of this American native are attractive and do not discourage rebloom. Those of you interested in attracting butterflies will want to plant this perennial. This short Gaillardia is best used at the front of the border, in a container or as a cut flower. It, too, is deer resistant as well as drought, heat and salt tolerant. Plant in well-drained, gritty soil in full sun; drainage is crucial to survival.
There is also a short ornamental grass in this burgundy compendium. Called Pennisetum ‘Burgundy Bunny’, it is only 12-16” high and wide with narrow, arching foliage that is green with red tints during the summer. When temperatures start to drop in the fall, the foliage becomes a fiery red. Small, cream, bottle brush inflorescences appear in July and stay in bloom until frost. Like most grasses, the deer leave this alone. It is ideal for containers, accent plantings, the front of a border, and small space gardens. Additionally, it is drought resistant once established. Plant in well-drained, average to dry soil in full sun.
Moving on to other varietals, let’s visit Hibiscus ‘Pinot Noir’. There are many gorgeous annual hibiscus but this cultivar is quite hardy. Many of the hardy ones grow quite large but one of the best assets of ‘Pinot Noir’ is that it fits into a perennial garden or landscape quite well because it is a dwarf, growing only three feet high and wide.. The big, bold, red flowers appear on compact, well branched, sturdy plants. The blooms appear in mid to late July and continue into October. The large foliage and flowers give it a tropical appearance. Use in the mid-border, in a mixed border, as a specimen (one makes quite a splash), or in a container. This eye-catcher is also deer-resistant. Give it full sun and an average amount of water to keep it reblooming. Be sure to deadhead; the droopy deadheads are not attractive but they snap off quite easily. Be patient in spring; this hibiscus will not foliate until mid to late May. The second year I had it, I was sure it was dead and started to dig it up but fortunately, saw that the roots were quite alive.
Everything I’ve mentioned so far is perennial but I don’t want to neglect a lovely annual, Supertunia ® Bordeaux™. What makes a petunia a Supertunia®? It’s extra vigorous with a slightly mounded habit and medium to large sized flowers. It is best used as either a filler or a spiller in containers or in the front of landscape beds. Unlike other petunias, no deadheading is needed. Bordeaux™ is pale purple with dark purple veins and a dark wine heart. It is lovely in a grouping and is relatively drought tolerant. Plant in well-drained soil in sun or light shade and prune for bushiness if the plants become leggy. Use a slow release fertilizer every time you water.
There are many more varietals available for planting in the garden but they’ll have to wait until another time.