Try Anything New Lately?

If someone asked me why I garden, my answer today would be, "to try lots of things I've never grown before!" I don't buy perennials in threes or fives. I buy one; two if they're small. Every year I grow dozens of new plants-- tropicals, shrubs, annuals, bulbs and perennials. 

I started Anoda as an afterthought. I'd ordered seed of one named 'Snow Cup' from Select Seeds. I started just a few from the packet. By late March I'd realized that perhaps I over-ordered, so I was running out of room for seedlings. The tiny Anoda seedlings ended up in the special cell packs I ordered for starting sweet peas, and sat neglected under a peony in the raised bed until my husband asked if I was punishing them for some reason.

It was already mid-June when I got them into the ground. I had to admire their tough constitution, surviving as they did with a dash of water whenever they looked wilted, or I remembered. Three plants of the four made it. Two are struggling beneath larger plants and poke their heads out once in awhile, one is cavorting with a neighboring Salvia, and one I yanked out because it looked just like a weed.

Anoda cristata has been called a weed and worse. According to the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United State, this American native is terrorizing several states, most of which are in the southwestern U.S. No wonder it sat patiently in its pitiful cell packs until I was ready to plant it.

I've grown flowering tobacco before for its wonderful jasmine-like scent. I finally got around to planting the variety called Cranberry Isle, which I ordered from Select Seeds.

Nicotiana 'Cranberry Isle'
I am really thrilled with this mix. I had grown Nicotiana alata, a pure white form similar in stature and habit to Cranberry Isle.

Even the white-flowered plants in the 'Cranberry Isle' Nicotiana mix seem to have more substance.
 But the colors in this heirloom variety make the 4-footer look good even in the middle of the day when it tends to droop like a swooning southern belle.
You'd almost think a flower this color would smell like grape Kool-aid.
It's hard to imagine these statuesque beauties emerging from such tiny seed. But that's part of the fun of growing something new.

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