Written by Jackie Panek, Annuals & Perennials Manager
Hello, fellow plant lovers and hibernating gardeners!
I recently wrote about some of my favorites from our seed selection as I was sitting in my cold office dreaming of Spring. We are under two months away now and I have been confirming orders and deliveries; I'm really feeling pumped up!
I wanted to express my excitement for the upcoming season by talking about some new varieties from some of my favorite growers that I am looking forward to.
Last year I was so thrilled with the addition of many medicinal offerings from one of my favorite local growers. For the first time ever I was able to grow Althaea officinalis (MARSHMALLOW PLANT!) in my garden. I can't wait to harvest and dry the roots this Fall to make concoctions with. Not only is it a beautiful plant sought after by pollinators, it is super easy to grow and has soft, velvety leaves and is so beneficial medicinally.
I have had success overwintering my ginger root indoors for the past four winters; my most anticipated addition to our offerings that I will certainly be buying at least two of from Wolf Hill is Curcurma longa-- turmeric plant. Also in the ginger family, and an equal anti-inflammatory powerhouse, turmeric has a very long growing season so it must be brought indoors away from cold before frost hits in the Fall. Highlighted along with turmeric, we will also be offering Piper nigrum (Black Pepper Plant) and Camellia sinensis (Black Tea Plant) both of which will need to be brought indoors for Winter.
Wolf Hill will be carrying another new, funky addition this Spring; Luffa aegyptiaca! The Loofah Sponge plant is in the cucurbit family along with cucumbers, melons, gourds and squashes. The fruit follows a warm, large, yellow flower and looks a lot like a long English Cucumber. You can either eat the fruit while it's young and treat it like a zucchini squash by either grilling it, making bread, or zoodles. To harvest the loofah as a sponge, let the fruit get huge, like a hidden zucchini might. Once it is brown and dried on the vine, peel the outer layer to reveal the sponge and save the seeds that trickle out for next season. I'll be happy to not have to buy kitchen sponges EVER AGAIN! Another beneficial plant for pollen loving insects, this squash is two-fold advantageous for the environment as you will have natural sponges to use in the kitchen, bathroom, and crafting. This addition comes exclusively to independent garden centers from the Chef Jeff program; you won't find this at Home Depot! I'll be growing a couple up my front trellis that changes year to year from morning glories, mandevilla, sweet peas, passion flower, thunbergia, and scarlet runner bean.
Customers who shop here know I am always pushing my favorite Heuchera by the Proven Winners brand called "Wildberry," as well as "Midnight Rose," for their purple shades and splashed foliage. I saw a re-introduced variety called "Hercules" and was immediately attracted to its heavily marbled, creamy variegation. I am always a sucker for variegated plants, and this heuchera is no exception. I am hoping we'll be able to offer this perennial in our shade loving plant section this Summer.
A perennial that gets a lot of love early on and is our Springtime bread and butter is definitely the Moss Phlox. Phlox subulata is a popular choice for groundcover and as a cascading accent over rock walls, and for good reason! We will have all the classic colors as well as a new series called GoldiPhlox which boasts a tighter and more dense mounding habit. I like to encourage customers to plant later blooming trailing varieties along with their moss phlox to extend the color show along a wall. Some tried and true plants I admire for this purpose are Georgia Blue creeping veronica, Blue Waterfall campanula, Snow in Summer, Rockress, cranesbill geraniums, Lithodora tidepool sky blue, and Iberis to name a few. New for 2024 is First Flush Lavender Iberis- can't wait to see this beauty in action!
As a wannabe herbalist and dog-walking forager, one of my most cherished finds in the spring is a wild patch of fiddleheads. These darling little edible coins are the unfurled fronds of Matteuccia struthiopteris-- the Ostrich Fern. We have always sold this shade-loving fern, but it can be quite pricey in the larger pots it's always been potted in. One of our treasured growers from the Garden State has newly introduced this hardy perennial for sale in a 1 quart pot! We will certainly have these for retail this coming season. We may also be able to source plug trays of many different fern varieties for larger landscape projects.
Cleary, I could go on and on about every new or reintroduced variety that's up for grabs this coming season, but I'll end it here for now. I'm sure next week I'll find something else to geek out about. Until then, thanks for reading and please let us know what you are excited to see at Wolf Hill this year or if you have any special requests!
Enjoy the sunshine :)