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January 2018
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Is your garden ready for ultra violet, Pantone’s 2018 Color of Year?

Bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are frequent visitors to ‘Millenium’ allium, the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year. Photo courtesy Perennial Resource.com

The 2018 Color of the Year conjures up memories and science.

Pantone, the world’s arbiter of fashionable color, designated ultra violet as this year’s special hue.

I immediately thought of Ultra Violet, a writer, actress, artist and pal of Andy Warhol. French-born and reportedly a muse of Salvador Dali, her real name was Isabelle Collin Dufresne (1935-2014), but she regularly donned her namesake color and dyed her hair to match.

Then there’s ultra violet light, which we humans can’t see. In the rest of the animal world, birds, bees, butterflies, salmon, reindeer and other critters have the ability to see ultra violet light waves. This aids their ability to distinguish types of seeds and foods, male and female counterparts and other survival skills.

For instance, humans see yellow petals on a black-eyed Susan, but the colorful rays registers as ultra violet wavelengths to form a bull’s eye, drawing bees to the nectar- and pollen-laden center.

Fortunately for our gardens and containers, ultra violet is an easy color to incorporate, especially if we embrace a wide palette. Petunia, calibrachoa, tuberous begonia, the herb lavender, gladiolas and lilacs are among plants with violet tones.

‘Ultra Violet’ salvia. Photo courtesy HighCountryGardens.com

For the purists, there’s ‘Ultra Violet’ salvia (S. lycioides x greggii), from High Country Gardens, a perennial selection from the garden of author Lauren Springer Ogden (Plant-Driven Design and Passionate Gardening) in Colorado.

It is hardy to USDA Zone 6, which includes central Indiana, however if we have a winter like this year’s where it gets below minus 10F, it may not be reliable. Leave the plant upright through winter and cut back when new growth appears in spring. Grow in full sun in average soil that doesn’t stay wet. It is available at HighCountryGardens and BluestonePerennials among other online plant retailers. Or ask at your favorite garden center if it carries the perennial.

Perennial Plant of the Year

Seemingly right on color cue, the Perennial Plant Association has named ‘Millenium’ ornamental onion (Allium hybrid) as its plant for 2018. Fairly new on the market, ‘Millenium’ is a powerhouse of violet balls that draw in butterflies, bees and other pollinators. It blooms mid- to late summer. Consider snipping a few stems for indoor enjoyment. It is easy to grow in full sun in about any kind of soil except wet.

In case you were wondering, it is spelled ‘Millenium’ with one n because the patent for the plant was submitted with the misspelling. The plant is readily available all ready growing in pots at garden centers, and as bulbs from online merchants, including BrentandBeckysBulbs, McClure & Zimmerman and Bluestone Perennials. Order bulbs now for spring planting and a summer show.

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