Favorite or New Plant
'Diamond Frost' Euphorbia
Okay, yes, I've written about euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' before, but it rates a mention multiple times as it continually exceeds expectations. This may seem unusual for what is, essentially, a filler plant, but 'Diamond Frost' is practically indestructible and blooms nonstop with regular watering. Plus, it grows well in the garden or in outdoor containers as an annual, or indoors as a houseplant. Forming a 15- to 18-inch-tall mound, with rounded, oval, 1/2- to 1-inch, bright green leaves, 'Diamond Frost' bears small, airy, white flowers. Plants are drought tolerant, grow well in both sun and partial shade, and need no deadheading. Besides using it next year as a summer bedding plant or in mixed containers, try it this winter to brighten up your indoor garden.
Tool or Gardening Product
Although I have a hoop-and-plastic-covered garden bed devoted to fall and winter vegetables, there are times when I want to protect a small area or a single plant from early frosts. Sometimes such an area simply gets a sheet or blanket thrown over it, or maybe a frost-protective fabric. But my favorite solution is to use a garden umbrella. These basically resemble a clear plastic umbrella, with the center "handle" pushed into the ground. A similar option, without the center pole, is the pop-up cloche. These are held in place with ground pins. None of these will protect plants from really cold weather, but they certainly do extend the harvest season in the fall. Plus they can be used to protect early-spring plantings. There are several sizes, with most covering a 3- to 4-square-foot area. Garden umbrellas and pop-up cloches are available from some of the mail-order seed companies as well as Charley's Greenhouse at: http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com.