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 AZUSA, Calif., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- While people are enjoying

their gardens this spring, it's nice to know that nurserymen are working in theirs to bring new plants each season.
 Frequent new plant introductions by nursery growers enable local garden centers to add to one's list of favorite flowers, shrubs and trees "new" and "improved" varieties that stimulate the senses, reduce maintenance and add new colors to a garden.
 The labels "new" and "improved" are authentic when they apply to plants. Each year, nursery companies introduce new varieties that perform better in home landscapes. Some are bred to provide flowers that are larger, sturdier and bloom over a longer period of time. Others are developed to be smaller, easier to maintain versions of old garden favorites. Still others are developed to adapt to extremes in environmental conditions, such as cold winters, drought and air pollution. These improvements are examples of the way nurseries strive to make gardening easier and more enjoyable for every consumer.
 Monrovia Nursery Co. has a long standing reputation for introducing new plants to excite today's gardeners. This spring, the grower of "Distinctively Better" plants will release three new plants that live up to the labels "new" and "improved."
 Pink Elf (TM) Miniature French Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla "Pia") is a very compact, dwarf plant with a bushy, rounded habit growing only 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. This diminutive form of a traditional garden favorite makes it useful as an edging or foreground plant, or tub plant for today's smaller gardens. It produces broad heads of soft, rose-pink flowers that virtually cover the top of the plant in early summer. The flowers are long lasting and will continue to bloom sporadically through the summer. The flowers contrast nicely with the crisp, forest green foliage. If grown in a container, its small scale allows it be brought indoors during flowering where it can be enjoyed close up.
 This tiny shrub is deciduous in most climates, but will remain nearly evergreen in areas of mild winters. It is hardy to U.S.D.A. zone 7 (0 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit). Provide a rich, well drained soil and ample water for best performance. In most climates, plant Pink Elf in partial shade, such as a northern or eastern exposure. In cool summer climates plant in full sun.
 Another new introduction, First Love (TM) Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides "Aimee") is considered by many horticulturists to be the "Cadillac" of gardenia plants. It has large, four-inch-wide, satiny textured blooms that are intensely fragrant. The fully double, gleaming white flowers bloom more profusely and over a longer period of time than the old favorite, "Mystery" Gardenia. First Love is the first gardenia to bloom in spring and continues to flower from May to July. Its foliage is also superb, with larger, glossy leaves that retain their deep green color in winter.
 Like other gardenias, First Love is an evergreen shrub which is hardy to U.S.D.A. zone 8 (10 degrees to 20 degrees Fahrenheit). It grows at a moderate rate into an upright shrub four to five feet tall. Gardenias will take full sun in most areas, except in the desert where they require a northern or eastern exposure. The best flowering is achieved in areas with summer heat. Provide a moist, but well-drained soil for best performance.
 The First Love Gardenia makes a great container plant, surviving many years in the same pot. If grown in a container, it can be moved into protection in the winter and placed near entry ways in the summer, where the fragrant blooms can be enjoyed by guests. It is also useful in raised planters, as a low hedge or as an espalier.
 A new selection of plumbago, a rugged native of South Africa, will also be available for the first time this spring. Royal Cape(TM) (Plumbago auriculata "Monott," Plt. Pat. No. 7822) possesses incredibly deep, clear blue flowers which bloom more profusely than the species in large, phlox-like clusters. The electric color of Royal Cape provides summer gardens with that rare deep blue flower for the full sun. Many of the other blue flowered plants require some shade to maintain their color. The deep blue color of the flowers will add a cooling note to a hot summer afternoon.
 Royal Cape is an easy-to-grow mounding shrub that flowers most of the summer and is considered drought tolerant. It is best used as a bank covering, in a raised planter or hanging basket. Plumbagos are hardly to U.S.D.A. zone 9 (20 degrees to 30 degrees Fahrenheit). In areas where plumbagos are not winter hardy, these fast growing shrubs can be used for summer color in place of annuals.
 Look for these exciting new plants in local garden centers where "Distinctively Better" plants from Monrovia Nursery Co. are sold.
 -0- 2/25/92
 /NOTE: Color transparencies or black and white photos available upon request, 800-999-9321, ext. 203./
 /CONTACT: Rodger A. Duer of Monrovia Nursery, 800-999-9321, ext. 203/ CO: Monrovia Nursery Co. ST: California IN: SU:

SM -- NYGFNS2 -- 2145 02/25/92 07:12 EST
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Date:Feb 25, 1992

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