Entrance Garden

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Our Entrance Garden is at its peak

If you get a chance to stop by, our Entrance Garden is prime for viewing. This is the garden out by the road just as you pull into the driveway, and it is at its peak. We’re going to break down and explain the garden—it features a surprising Coleus with beautiful flower stalks, the wispy Ruellia ‘Purple Showers’, and a bed of mixed Vinca, all anchored by several plantings of Musa ‘Zebrina’.

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Ruellia ‘Purple Showers’—the bloom resembles a traditional Petunia

Our Mexican Petunia ‘Purple Showers’ is the most unusual plant in the garden—we’ve written about it in the past (see here). Many people walking into the office have asked about that blue flower up by the road. On its own the bloom closely resembles a petunia, but the plant is almost the polar opposite.

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Colorful flowers are scattered up, down, and throughout ‘Purple Showers’

Petunias are dense and low to the ground; Ruellia is open and airy, with tall thin stems that reach up and wave around in the wind. Those dark stems are oak-chocolate in color. Although they branch out, the plant never gets thick—as in a thicket. Rather, it maintains a delicate, ethereal presence, scattering its color throughout the planting.

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Coleus ‘Pineapple Surprise’ has a chocolate that matches Ruella ‘Purple Showers’

We surrounded the Ruellia with Coleus ‘Pineapple Surprise’, which grows about half as high and forms the second tier of the garden. This Coleus is a lush grower that corrals the Ruellia without caging it in at all. We especially like the fact that the chocolate brown spots and stems of the Coleus are a dead match for the striking brown stems of the Ruella. With the colors matching, we find that their contrasting textures really stand out here.

As do the Coleus flowers—they look great, and they were available in a thick stand. Normally you don’t hear us talking about the flowers of Coleus but with this one you will.

 MG 8844 70‘Pineapple Surprise’ blooms up a beautiful storm—unusual for a Coleus

We fronted the bed with Vinca Pacifica Bold Mix. This is a four-tone mix of bright red, orange, coral, and pink shades. We chose a mix because we wanted to continue the dappling that ‘Pineapple Surprise’ brings to the garden, but we wanted something quick and reliable to fill that spot. A Pro Tip: You can swap out this Vinca Mix for another one to match the surroundings of your proposed area.

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Vinca forms a low plaza that fronts the higher Coleus and Ruellia

Vinca is also helpful when working with an unusual specimen like Ruellia. We like to use a more familiar variety in the same bed to help people make a connection with the new plant. Because the garden is not completely strange, they are able to associate the exotic ‘Purple Showers’ with the Vinca that’s well within their comfort zone.

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Vinca Pacifica Bold Mix is one of the modern mixes with uniformly warm colors 

Finally, to add height, we chose Musa ‘Zebrina’, a mid-sized banana. It’s not so big that it overpowers everything, but it’s large enough to add power and drama as an anchor to the garden. Musa grows fast and has big bold leaves that undulate in the breeze. It adds another layer of color with the red underside of the leaf, and if necessary we can control the size of the plant through water management.

 MG 8876 102Musa ‘Zebrina’—big, undulating leaves with red stripes and stems

We have to say the Entrance Garden did its job well. Ruellia can be hard to understand until you see it in action. When ‘Purple Showers’ came into its full glory several of our staff became enthusiastic about it, and the same can be said about the Coleus ‘Pineapple Surprise’. We’ve always liked Coleus, but once our staff saw a mature stand of ‘Pineapple Surprise’ they understood what makes it truly special and different from the other ones. Even better—now they know how to use it to its best effect.

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Diefenbacher Greenhouses is a supplier of annuals and creative green goods. We sell directly to Garden Centers and Landscapers in the Cincinnati Area. 

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