The second week of May has nurseries and garden centers full of flowers just in time to treat yourself or your gardening friends. May and June is also the time for graduations and nothing says “you’re growing” like a plant. Here are some green ideas for gifting on these special spring occasions:
For gardeners who garden on the cutting edge: Skip the traditional fuchsia basket or pots of geraniums and look for plants that are a bit unusual instead.
Consider a vine such as chocolate akebia with sweet scented puffy blooms, or an annual climber such as Black-eyed Susan or thunbergii.
There are lots of new petunias available at garden centers this year including more of the bi-colored mini petunias or calibrachoa.
If in doubt, look for plants labeled “Proven Winner” and you’ll impress your friends and yourself with your savvy shopping. Plants that earn the “Proven Winner” name are those that have been tested, evaluated and often new and unusual.
For gardeners who kill plants: Do you or your grad forget to water? Leave for long weekends in the summer or garden with the challenge of poor soil and full sun? Sedums and succulents are fleshy plants with rich textural interest and are now available planted in contemporary square containers, mixed in Tuscan-style pottery bowls or planted in cubes or frames to hang on a fence or wall.
There are also popular perennials that come back year after year with very little attention or water demands. Sedum “Autumn Joy” is a summer-blooming plant with flat panicles of blooms that turn from green, to pink to rust as the summer turns to fall.
The golden groundcover sedum “Angelina” will crowd out weeds and turn into a living mulch that looks good even in the winter. Sedums and succulents will give any garden a fresh look and plenty of drama without the drinking.
For gardeners who love color: If you want the most blooms for your buck, I nominate the Wave petunia. This fast growing ground-cover petunia splashes across any sunny spot with oceans of bloom.
You will need to loosen the topsoil, add some slow-release plant food and water the young plants until they are established, but in Western Washington these tough petunias have proved to be wind-, rain- and drought-resistant.
This year you can find Wave petunias in bright shades of purple, pink, lavender and a bicolor in purple and white. When used in hanging baskets or window boxes, the Wave petunias also do well as long as you keep them fertilized and don’t allow the soil to dry out. Meet Marianne
• 10 a.m. Saturday, University Place Tour of Gardens. Marianne will open the tour with a talk at University Presbyterian Church, 8800 27th St. W. The event continues noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Information: uphistoricalsociety.org.
• Noon Sunday at the Grays Harbor Home Show at Elma Fairgrounds. Marianne will speak about “Inspiration for your Garden from Ireland to Enumclaw.” Free. More information: omb.org.Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.