A Parade of Hot New Plants|
Irresistible introductions for 2011
By Gary Lewis, M.Sc., Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants
The lure of the garden is strong in 2011, with irresistible new introductions showing up at your favourite specialty garden shops. Dominating this year's parade of new plants are three categories all sporting new hues: the selection of Helleborus, Echinacea, and Heuchera / Heucherella has never been so diverse. If these aren't enough, hardy gardenia, ever-blooming red hot pokers, pink blueberries and others broaden the palette of new plant picks.
The winter and spring garden has changed forever with the vigorous and floriferous Helleborus Gold Collection. Last season brought the collection's first introductions, 'Jacob' and 'Josef Lemper' – improved forms of the Christmas rose (H. niger) that begin to bloom in November and December. This spring and beyond, look for 'HGC Pink Frost' with rich pink, outward facing flowers and red stems over mottled foliage, and 'HGC Cinnamon Snow' with white flowers accented with pink and cinnamon over dark green serrated foliage. Also watch for 'HGC Silvermoon' (white flowers, pewter green foliage), Winter's Bliss/'HGC Champion' and Winter's Song/'HGC Joker' both with white flowers with dark pink reverses.
Of the 15 or more new coneflowers, two double-flowered series stand out. The Secret Series includes 'Secret Desire' (pink and orange sunset tones), 'Secret Lust' (orange), 'Secret Passion' (bright pink), and 'Secret Romance' (light pink). The Cone-Fections series has two new cultivars 'Raspberry Truffle' (dark pink) and 'Strawberry Shortcake' (bicolour white and pink). For those who prefer classic single coneflowers, the Dream Series shows promise as a group of strong and reliable performers with good branching and lots of flowers. Try 'Daydream' (yellow), 'Amazing Dream' (deep pink), 'Heavenly Dream' (white), and 'Tangerine Dream' (bright orange). If you've had limited success with coneflowers remember that these prairie plants require poor, dry soils and full sun.
The march of new coral bells remains unabated. But they keep getting better! Two new trailing Heucherella mark the beginning of something great for borders and containers. 'Redstone Falls' has copper-red leaves and trails one foot across the ground or over the edge of containers or hanging baskets. 'Yellowstone Falls' has chartreuse leaves with deep crimson markings. It can trail three feet. Imagine the possibilities! Also watch for clumping Heuchera 'Cherry Cola' with red-brown leaves and rusty cherry red flowers.
For subtlety and beauty in the shade garden try the Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa Fubuki/'Briform' with striking white and green striped foliage (it has pink highlights in spring and fall) perfect for lighting up a dark corner. Or try six different easy-to-grow lady's slipper orchids: Cypripedium 'Dietrich' (yellow and cream), 'Gisela' (pink and dark pink), 'Sabine Pastel' (white and cream), 'Ulla Silkens' (pure white, pink flush or speckles), 'Victoria' (yellow with burgundy striping) and Cypripedium ventricosum 'Pastel' (ivory white).
Three new hostas will also create quite a stir. 'White Feather' joins 'Dancing Queen' (a Phoenix Perennials favourite last season) both with completely white leaves making a shockingly awesome punctuation in the spring garden. As the leaves mature streaks of green begin to appear. Two equally exciting new hostas offer tri-colour variegation. 'Ghostmaster' has leaves with white centres surrounded with emerald green surrounded again with a blue-green border. 'Captain's Adventure' has creamy yellow, yellow-green and dark green colours that forms an elongated maple leaf pattern.
For flare and excitement in the sun border try a new series of compact, all-summer blooming red hot pokers. Kniphofia 'Papaya Popsicle' has prolific red-orange blooms and 'Pineapple Popsicle' has massive numbers of yellow spikes the colour of freshly sliced pineapple.
Two new shrubs will offer olfactory and culinary pizzazz, respectively, in 2011. Gardenia 'Summer Snow' is Zone 6 hardy with sweetly fragrant, pure white, double flowers. A blueberry that tiptoed out last season will be more widely available last year, and is anything but blue. Vaccinium 'Pink Lemonade' is, you guessed it, PINK! Despite the difference in colour, it still has all of the flavour and health benefits of a regular blueberry, as well as the year round interest in flowers, fruit, fall foliage and red winter twigs.
Rounding out the festivities for 2011 are five cottage garden favourites that have been reinvented: the wallflower Erysimum 'Fragrant Star' has variegated, evergreen foliage, chocolate-purple buds, and sweetly fragrant yellow flowers. Centaurea montana 'Black Sprite' (perennial bachelor button) has purple-black flowers instead of royal blue. The bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine' will offer red pendulous hearts instead of pink. A new cultivar of shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) called 'Lacrosse' has pure white quilled petals that look like spoons or lacrosse sticks. And the crimson scabious, Knautia macedonica, gains a new dwarf, variegated form called 'Thunder and Lightning' with white-edged leaves and an endless supply of magenta pompoms all summer long.
Hip! Hip! Hurray! Have fun with the 2011 parade of hot new plants!
Gary Lewis owns Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants in Richmond, BC, which offers over 4000 different perennials each year. He serves on the Board of the Perennial Plant Association, on the Perennial and Bulb Selection Committee of Great Plant Picks, and works with E-Flora BC.