2017 Garden Center Trek reveals Fairies, Succulents, and Butterflies

I enjoy shopping for plants each spring. In addition to our usual local spots, my husband and I like to visit new garden centers each year. This year's garden shopping trek included Jacksonville, Springfield, Champaign, Danville, and Ottawa. At each location, I pay particular attention to new plants and garden trends. This year's trends were obviously fairies, succulents, and butterflies.

Every place we visited had unique fairy garden displays. We saw fairies playing chess, camping, sitting along a stream, and dining among lush plants. Miniature plants often include types of houseplants, succulents, and grasses. I'm amazed by the variety of small accessories you can find for fairy use. Miniature gardens can be created in almost anything. We saw gardens in porcelain sinks, old stumps, plastic acorns, pots, wagons, and much more.

Succulents have grown in popularity in recent years. Succulents have thick fleshy leaves or stems that store water in dry conditions. They are very easy to grow and require little maintenance. We saw them in steppers, a chicken feed trough, metal watering cans, and little red wagons.

Pollinator plants, especially those that attract butterflies, were clearly marked on plant labels. Milkweed for monarchs is the most common plant sold for butterflies. In fact, most places we visited were already low on or out of milkweed plants. The most popular are the ornamental butterfly weed and swamp milkweed.

My goal this year was to add several new and different perennials to my garden. In past years our garden budget was often saturated by large garden projects. This year we are trying to improve and simplify our current outdoor living spaces. Since I garden in dry sand, I chose perennials that should do well in those conditions. These include variegated lilyturf (Liriope muscari), Elijah blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'), Arizona sun blanket flower (Gallardia x 'Arizona Sun'), basket-of-gold (Aurinia saxatilis 'Compacta'), sea thrift (Armeria maritima 'Nifty Pink'), blue glitter sea holly (Eryngium planum 'Blue Glitter'), ornamental onion (Allium 'Millenium'), and red dwarf joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum 'Red Dwarf').

I'm trying new plants in other locations too. Two dwarf lily-of-the-valley shrubs (Pieris japonica 'Cavotine') are going in our shade garden near the gazebo and hot tub. A climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris) will soon climb up the arbor near our pool deck. I am trying a determinate Bush Goliath tomato that will take less space than traditional tomatoes in our herb garden.

Here is a list of the plants I purchased during this garden center trek.

  1. Bacopa (Sutera cordata 'MegaCopa™ Versa White') – annual flower
  2. Bidens ferulifolia Goldilocks Rocks® - annual flower
  3. Aremeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty' - perennial
  4. Purple Verbena (Glandularia canadensis 'Homestead Purple') - perennial
  5. Blanket flower (Gallardia x 'Arizona Sun') - perennial
  6. Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum 'Red Dwarf') - perennial
  7. Basket-of-gold (Aurinia saxatilis 'Compacta') - perennial
  8. Sea holly (Eryngium planum 'Blue Glitter') - perennial
  9. Dwarf lily-of-the-valley shrub (Pieris japonica 'Cavotine') - shrub
  10. Elijah blue fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue') – perennial ornamental grass
  11. Bush goliath tomato – annual vegetable
  12. Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris)
  13. Baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata 'Summer Sparkles') - perennial
  14. ornamental onion (Allium 'Millenium') - perennial
  15. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - perennial
  16. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) – annual herb
  17. Landmark™ Sunrise Rose Lantana (Lantana camara 'Balandrosim')
  18. Mojito Mint (Mentha x villosa) - container
  19. Zinnia 'Profusion Orange' – annual flower
  20. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima 'Snow Crystals') – annual flower
  21. Geranium (Pelargonium hortorum 'Americana Dark Red') – annual flower
  22. impatiens (Impatiens walleriana 'Super Elfin XP White')
  23. Lily Turf (Liriope muscari 'Variegata') - perennial
  24. Gerbera daisy - annual