Dirt on Gardening

This week I’m continuing to highlight new plants for the garden.

Beginning with plants to eat, “Damsel” is a new tomato plant that is reported to be resistant to late blight, nematodes and verticillium wilt. This is a compact, hybrid tomato plant that produces fruit similar to the heirloom tomato “Brandywine.”

If cherry tomatoes are your favorite, “Patio Choice Yellow” received an All American Selection award. This plant reaches about 18 inches in height and will grow well in a container. It should be covered with lots of round, yellow tomatoes that have a sweet flavor.

“Antares” is a fennel that reaches about two feet in height and produces five-inch bulbs. The bulbs have a noticeably sweet flavor. In addition to producing a sweet, edible bulb, the plant has airy, ornamental foliage that is edible and a food source for swallowtail caterpillars.

Looking for blackberry plants that don’t take a huge amount of space? “Baby Cakes” is a new thornless blackberry bred by the University of Arkansas. This plant grows no larger than three to four feet in height. It can be suitable for a large container, too. In cooler climates, it’s possible to get two crops of blackberries.

I’m looking forward to trying out “Fiber Optics,” a compact selection of the eastern native buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). This shrub is about five feet tall and wide, and it’s hardy to Zone 4. Fiber Optics has striking globes of fragrant white flowers. This shrubs, like many native plants, is adaptable to both wet and dry conditions once established.

There is a new maple cross between Japanese and Korean maples known as the “Jack Frost” collection designed to enhance the hardiness of Japanese maple. The first introduction from these crossbred trees is “North Wind.” Growing about one foot a year, this tree reaches 20 feet in height and 15 feet in width. North Wind is hardy to Zone 4. North Wind has red foliage in the spring, green foliage in the summer and reddish orange in the fall.

“Desdemona” is a white English rose that British rose breeder, David Austin, calls his best white rose to date. This new rose grows about five feet tall and three feet wide. Desdemona performed well in hot and dry and hot and humid climates. It’s hardy to Zone 5.

If you’re like me, there are things you grow year after year because you enjoy something about a particular plant. Take a chance on something new this year — annual or perennial plant, vegetable, flower, tree or shrub. Let me know how it turns out, too!

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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