Thursday, March 9, 2017

This 'n That Thursdays: More 2017 Plant Picks of the Year

From Cutest Paw

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post describing the National Garden Bureau's 2017 Plants of the Year.  I promised to continue the conversation last week but was rudely interrupted by a nasty head cold.  I am now well enough to focus on gardening again (although I wish my sense of smell would return!), so let's take a look at a few more 2017 picks by other organizations for garden plants of the year.

From Backyards for Nature

1) Perennial Plant Association 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year is Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) - butterfly weed is a tough, drought-tolerant perennial in the milkweed family (Apocynaceae) with a preference for sunny, well-drained conditions.  The flowers, which range in color from yellow-orange to red-orange, provide nectar for many bee and butterfly species.  The leaves are also the primary food source for caterpillars of the imperiled monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed (from TripAdvisor)


From Farmers' Almanac

2) International Herb Association 2017 Herb of the Year is Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) - this versatile herb provides two seasonings in one plant!  The leaves are known as cilantro, popular in Mexican and South Asian cooking.  Although the leaves are sometimes also called coriander, it is usually the seeds that are known by that name.  They are often ground and used with other spices in many dishes, including Indian cuisine.  Cilantro is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae (along with dill, parsley, and carrots).  It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and does best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, as it tends to bolt (go to seed) quickly in the heat.

Flowering cilantro will rapidly bolt in the heat (from Appalachian Feet).


From Carolyn's Shade Gardens

3) The Garden Club of America 2017 Plant of the Year is the Ashe Magnolia (Magnolia ashei) - the Ashe magnolia (family Magnoliaceae) is a deciduous understory tree endemic to eight counties in Florida but capable of growing in Zones 6 to 9 in the right conditions.  The tree is considered endangered in its native state due to its small population and limited range, so propagation and planting in appropriate garden habitats over a wider geographical area are encouraged.  The large, citrus-scented, purple-tinged white flowers alone are reason enough to plant this beauty!

A very attractive Ashe magnolia tree (from SlideShare).


From Maryland Biodiversity Project

4) Society of Municipal Arborists 2017 Urban Tree of the Year is the Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana) - the chestnut oak (family Fagaceae) is native to much of the eastern United States.  It is noted for growing on steep, rocky hills where other oaks cannot survive.  The distinctive deeply furrowed grey-brown bark is one of its most distinguishing characteristics, as are the leaves, which resemble those of the American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata), and the oval acorns with a cup-shaped cap which turn a deep chestnut brown color when mature.  As a landscape tree, the chestnut oak can reach 50-70 feet in height, and does best if allowed plenty of room to spread.  It is hardy in Zones 4 to 8 and prefers full sun.

A closer look at the distinctive leaves and acorns of the chestnut oak
(from Plants Map).

A mature chestnut oak acorn (from Arbor Day Foundation).


There are many more garden plant picks coming up for the year 2017, which I will feature in future posts.  The next installment will include more flower and vegetable choices for the home garden.  Things are warming up quickly here in Georgia, and I have a feeling I will be planting much earlier than usual!

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