Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seating in the garden

Seating in the garden is such a great way to add a focal point to even the smallest of garden spaces. At the Extension Idea Garden, there is this lovely little niche with a stone bench and a pollarded Catalpa. The whole scene is flanked with fabulous annual flowers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Exotic Crocosmia and Fountain Grass

Crocosmia Twilight Fairy Gold. Photo permission of Terra Nova Nurseries

One of the new plants I look forward to seeing is the development of the new Crocosmia "Twilight Fairy" series. These are said to be shorter border plants with multiple crowns, offering up a better fuller effect. One unique way to use this plant in the landscape that I really like is the combination of Crocosmia sp. with Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracilimus'. Planting Crocosmia at the base of this grass makes a prairie style plant taken on a tropical look. It is amazing. It also seems to increase the zone tolerance by at least one zone as mine are treated as perennials in zone 5b. I'm hoping that many of these new varieties and cultivars truly pan out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Heucheras: New plants for 2012

New plants coming out are always a hot topic. This is one of the reasons I was excited to be invited to attend the 2011 Independent Garden Center (IGC) trade show in Chicago as a social media representative and tweet about the new products I found interesting at the trade show. I'm going to make a couple of posts on plants and products that I am excited to see coming out.

Heucheras have been pretty unstable in what is shown sold in catalogs and what is reality. The leaves shift in color with almost every passing day. I have a special interest in adding plants that will stay true to their advertised color, size and shape.

Terra Nova Nurseries released a few new varieties that they shared at IGC. They brought 19 new plants for display. The goal for these plants was to showcase improvements over older varieties in performance, crown size, and flowering. Owning a few of the older species, there are many desired changes that I'd like to see in consistency of leaf color and perhaps longevity.

Heuchera 'Pear Crisp' part of the new "Crisp" series.
Photo permission of Terra Nova Nurseries
The groups on display at this trade show were the Heuchera "Crisp" series, a couple of plants from the Heucherella "Falls" series, and the Sedum "Party Hardy" series. Another inclusion was the 'Sun King' Aralia. There are always entertaining names coming for Terra Nova Nurseries. Many names usually instigate a sudden desire for food or drink.

Heuchera 'Delta Dawn'. Photo permission of Terra Nova Nurseries
This new round of plants seemed to really concentrate on bang-for-your-buck type details. Leaf color, shape and texture are shown. Of the new plants, I found the leaf color and patterns to be most interesting in the Heuchera 'Delta Dawn' and 'Electra'. Both plants show the color transition of bright new growth to darker older growth, but all the while maintaining color interest. Heucherella 'Solar Eclipse' has a maroon center with lime green scalloped margins. These leaves really seemed to stand out and had great texture.

Heuchera 'Electra'. Photo permission of Terra Nova Nurseries

I've grown a few Heuchera over the years, nothing compared to a breeder, but have been a bit surprised, sometimes disappointed, at the variability in leaf color over the season. I am amazed that they can be marketed under one particular color or another. With each successive year, this color variation seems to be decreasing and plants are coming closer to maintaining the marketed color that they are sold under. In zone 5b, Huecheras, Heucherellas, Tiarellas not only return but also do so reliably even in our gray, (lately) harsh, snowless winters.
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