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The Garden Guy: A Heart to Heart Handoff with Caladium of the Year

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By Norman Winter | Horticulturist, Author, Speaker

This time of the year you see stories not only looking back at 2023 but, of course, the prognostications for 2024. This is fun to do in the gardening world, too. For instance, the Proven Winners ‘Caladium of the Year’ for 2023 was Heart to Heart Scarlet Flame. This was an eye-opener for a lot of gardeners.

You see we think of caladiums in two basic types or forms, fancy leaves and strap leaves. Fancy leaves are large, heart or semi-heart shaped. Strap or lance-leaves are narrow, some ruffled, and generally shorter. So, this has led many gardeners to choose sides, as in bigger is better.
Scarlet Flame, the 2023 Caladium of the Year, is a strap-leaved selection and won our hearts with the number of leaves produced, vibrancy of color and the ability to work in mixes or partnerships most of us have never dreamed about.

I’ll never forget the combination with Blue Mohawk rush and Sweet Caroline Medusa Green ornamental sweet potato. It is also a caladium for sun or shade. Those of us who paid attention, will never roll our eyes at the suggestion of a strap-leaved variety again.

To read more, pick up a copy of the March issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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The Garden Guy

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By Norman Winter | Horticulturist, Author, Speaker

As a national garden writer, I can tell the trumpet call has gone out for the long summer ahead. This is a call for petunias, summer’s favorite flowers, and they are trumpet shaped, of course. This call is also one of panic as I hear it in the voices of gardeners saying, “I can’t find my bubblegums.”

This means they can’t find their Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunias. There is little doubt this is the most awarded petunia of all time. You can count them, 296 awards filling 10 pages. Bubblegums and all of the Supertunias, are among the most awarded flowers available to gardeners. By awards I’m referring to rigorous university trials in both the United States and Canada.

You want to get them planted now while the temperatures are mild over much of the country and acclimation is nice and easy. Even in the south it is a great time to plant before triple digit heat indexes are the norm. Planting now will give you the longest time to enjoy a Supertunia Summer Celebration. You want to plant now because everyone is ready for season color and shopping at the local garden center is among the stiffest competition. Hence the panic over Bubblegums.

To read more, pick up a copy of the July issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Parting Shot: Big Shoes to Fill

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By Jelly Cocanougher

It starts with absorbing how to drive on old ranch roads. The beat-up pickup that has run a million miles and is somehow still hanging on – almost always with some quirks to it. I remember holding a passenger truck door closed with a rope, checking on pastures. I remember being at a farm auction baffling a half a dozen men starting a raggedy old feed truck with a scrawny wire you had to jiggle. Feet dangling trying to reach the pedals of a sketchy old truck, navigating the dirt roads with a cold Dr. Pepper and chocolate bar.

You inherit your grand daddy’s oversized gloves that are way too big to avoid pinching your fingers. From observing and acquiring the wisdom from delivering babies, mending fences, checking out water gaps, to doctoring and holding the iron that holds your generational brand. Raising the next generation right – in the dirt and absorbing how the world works.

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Parting Shot: Harvesting Resilience, The Timeless Strength of Agriculture

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By Jelly Cocanougher

He stands smiling next to a loaded trailer of cattle, a poignant snapshot of ranchers in their day-to-day activities. He is absorbed into the generational rich legacy of agriculturally based professions, with grueling hours that have poured in from the livelihood of this lifestyle.
As the heavy clouds loom in the horizon, he remains unfazed, ready to weather any challenge that comes his way. Fueled by passion and in cadence, information that has been developed from generations before him or us all, we are the backbone of agricultural communities.

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