When Stephanie Thomas was a kid, she and her family used to venture up to Daffodil Hill, a farm in Jackson, Calif., that’s located in a beautiful alpine setting at an elevation of 3,000-plus feet. With pine trees, an old barn, rusting mining equipment and a landscape that’s covered with hundreds of thousands of daffodils, the setting appealed to Thomas, who remembers Daffodil Hill more as the well-kept secret it once was than the tourist destination it is today.
But although Daffodil Hill isn’t a private getaway any longer, it offers unique value to Thomas and the garden center for which she works, Ridge Road Garden Center in Pine Grove, Calif.
“We sell a lot of daffodil bulbs because of Daffodil Hill,” says Thomas, a Ridge Road assistant manager. “A lot of people locally here know about it. It’s blooming in the spring, but in the fall we have to remind customers that if they want their own Daffodil Hill, that’s when they must purchase their daffodil bulbs.”
Ridge Road doesn’t dedicate a ton of space to bulbs – the majority of the bulbs it carries are, in fact, daffodil bulbs – but the Daffodil Hill factor is a unique draw for the garden center.
Your community, city or region probably doesn’t have a Daffodil Hill, but perhaps your area has a tourist destination that plays right into bulbs. Even if your area doesn’t, new bulb varieties – either the bulbs themselves or finished bulb items – are one way to get your customers excited about next spring’s possibilities.
Abbott-IPCO is introducing three new caladium varieties for 2011, including ‘Cinderella,’ a short-to-intermediate delicate pink lance-leafed caladium. ‘Cinderella’ displays a full-mounding habit with or without de-eyeing in 4-inch and larger pots. De-eyed plants are more compact with more and smaller leaves. In the landscape ‘Cinderella’ makes an excellent border plant in shaded landscapes.
‘White Pearl’ is a short to intermediate white-strapped caladium. Similar in stature to ‘White Ruffles,’ ‘White Pearl’ is a much purer white whereas ‘White Ruffles’ is cream white. ‘White Pearl’ can take full sun and should be useful as a border plant.
‘White Diamond’ is a strap-leafed caladium that makes a great pot or hanging basket plant. In the landscape, ‘White Diamond’ can take full sun but also thrives in partial sun. It has the shortest crop time of all white strap varieties and has good habit even when not de-eyed.
Two new dahlia varieties for 2011 are ‘Amber Quartz’ and ‘Tricolore.’ Both varieties bloom mid summer to fall and are hardy to USDA Zones 7 to 10. ‘Amber Quartz’ features a salmon flower that changes to pale yellow toward the center. It grows about 28 inches tall and sports dark foliage. ‘Tricolore,’ meanwhile, is actually three different colors – orange/red, yellow and purple – and is recommended in containers. It grows about 20 inches tall.
A few other new perennial varieties from De Vroomen are ‘Valentine’ dicentra, ‘Azzurro’ geranium, ‘Can Can’ helenium and ‘Blue Ivory’ hosta.
Leo Berbee Bulb Company
The Leo Berbee Bulb Company has several 2011 introductions, including tulips named ‘Orange Princess’ (pictured), ‘Matchpoint’ and ‘Pink Breeze,’ a daffodil named ‘Jetfire’ and a hyacinth named ‘Multiflora White.’
The three tulip varieties mentioned grow about 12 inches in height and prefer full to part sun. ‘Orange Princess’ sports orange-red flamed double blooms that appear in May. ‘Matchpoint’ has lilac double blooms that appear in April and ‘Pink Breeze’ blooms mid season and features pink, single blooms.
‘Jetfire,’ a lightly scented daffodil, is a Leo Berbee introduction. It grows anywhere from 10 to 14 inches tall and blooms from February to May. Its flowers are yellow with red-orange cups. ‘Multiflora White,’ meanwhile, is a hyacinth that features fragrant white blossoms and grows best in Zones 4 to 10.
Netherland Bulb Company
Netherland Bulb Company is taking the guesswork out of choosing which tulip bulbs to plant with its Pretty In Pink collection. Pretty in Pink is composed of at least five different hardy tulip varieties that are available in soft shades of pink. All were chosen to complement each other. Generally, the mix grows about 18 to 20 inches tall and blooms in mid-spring.
For retailers looking for more unusual varieties, Strawberry Swirl Mix offers two varieties of late-blooming, double-flowering tulips that are considered low maintenance. The collection grows to heights of 16 to 18 inches and blooms in late spring.
The Rock Garden Mix collection is another Netherland Bulb offering, but this one is a collection of narcissus that was chosen for its unique forms, color combinations and heights. These narcissus varieties bloom throughout mid-spring and offer home gardeners a choice for areas that take full or part sun.
The Delight series is a new breed of Darwin hybrid tulips that blooms earlier and longer then all other Darwin hybrids. Colors include Apricot (pictured), Candy Apple, Cherry and Rosy.
Simple Pleasures also has a new double late Peony tulip in ‘Eternal Flame,’ which features lipstick red flowers that are tinged with white and a shock of green. The leaves of ‘Eternal Flame’ are edged with white and pink for a striking garden display. It grows about 12 inches tall.
Simple Pleasures also offers Muscari tulips, which are ideal for borders, rock gardens or planting with other tulips or daffodils. One new Muscari tulip is ‘Pink Sunrise,’ which sports pale pink flowers. ‘Pink Sunrise’ grows 3 or 4 inches tall.
University Of Florida
Caladiums have become mainstays in today’s garden centers. With a bounty of rich pink, red, white and green, they can bring life to any occasion in which they are used. Recently, University of Florida breeders have released a number of new caladium varieties. Florida growers have planned to introduce these varieties to garden centers and gardeners in the coming spring.
‘Cranberry Star’ is one such caladium. Its maroon star speckles and green veins offer an eye-catching contrast against a snowy backdrop. Suited for containers 6 inches or larger, ‘Cranberry Star’s best color display is in partially shaded locations.
A more standard caladium is ‘Firecracker Red,’ which features full heart-shaped leaves with a vivid red core that fades into the verdant border. Plants, 14 to 18 inches tall, take full sun and are suited for containers 8 inches or larger.
‘Summer Rose’ is another recent introduction. It is rose in color but thrives in summer heat and rain, and its best color display is in part shade.
Van Bloem Gardens
Van Bloem Gardens is now the exclusive provider for the new P. Allen Smith Garden Home Collection of summer bulbs. Bulb varieties in the line include cannas, elephant ears, caladiums and dahlias. Gardeners utilizing Smith’s selection of bulbs will be able to group them in clusters as bold accents in flower beds, mix them freely with other annuals and perennials or simply use them in containers.
Additionally, Van Bloem has a new tulip offering in ‘Ice Cream,’ which has big, 4-inch double vanilla white blooms with a blush of pink and green accents.
Vandenberg Bulb Company
‘Teletubby,’ ‘Flaming Bird’ and ‘Queensland’ are three new tulip varieties from Vandenburg, which is also offering a more vibrant purple allium in ‘His Excellency’ (pictured)
‘Teletubby’ is a Triumph tulip that will flower between late April and early May. It grows to a height of 20 inches and gets its name, of course, from the popular kids show “Teletubbies.” ‘Flaming Bird’ is a Parrot tulip that flowers in May, growing 20 inches tall. It is a white cream-colored tulip with vibrant red vertical accents. ‘Queensland,’ meanwhile, is a fringed double tulip that also flowers in May. It grows about 16 inches tall and is a beautiful dark pink/apricot color on the bottom with snow white fringes on its tips.