New Year exciting for gardeners

Especially if you are a gardener, as there is always the anticipation of new plant introductions making their way into the nurseries...

THE BAPTISIA belongs to the pea family and is a tall flower which is draught-tolerant.

With the flurry of Christmas under our belts, it is easy to get excited about a new year rounding the corner.

Especially if you are a gardener, as there is always the anticipation of new plant introductions making their way into the nurseries in short order.

Doing some scouting on the Internet, I have earmarked a few plants that caught my eye.

In particular, a hardy hibiscus called Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Purple Hearts’. It promises open-face, deep red flowers 10 to 11 inches in diameter. Picture those flowers laying against a background of dark purple, heart-shaped leaves.

Do not despair over lack of garden space. It is a dwarf…only gets three feet high and wide. And hardy to Zone 4!

If you love echinaceas keep an eye open for these two: Echinacea x ‘Rocket Man’ and E. ‘Supreme Cantaloupe’.

The latter is touted as being the exact colour of a ripe cantaloupe and it is a double. ‘Rocket Man’ is a single with long, watermelon-coloured petals that reflex down. Both have long-lasting blooms, making them great pollinator attractors.

The photo of a new grass truly made me stop dead in my scrolling through internet pages. A cultivar of our native North American bluestem grasses, the foliage of Andropogon gerardii ‘Dancing Wind’ is purported to be green liberally tinged with red.

But the photo on the website taken after the first frost showed nothing but scarlet glory. Ruggedly hardy from Zones 4 to 9, this plant will tolerate all soil conditions except wet. I can picture this six foot specimen amongst the other grasses in my tough garden area out front.

Carrying on…exciting news from Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina.

Are you familiar with Baptisia spp. (false indigo)? Great plant species. Not only looks good but also sets nitrogen in your soil…being that it is in the pea family.

Since 1998, this nursery has been working to improve on baptisia’s large purple-blue flowers. At 4.5 feet tall with 20 inches of that height all flower spike, I would hazard the nursery has a winner in Baptisia “Blue Towers”. Especially if it lives up to its “tower” name and does not need staking.

Another great feature…it is very drought-tolerant, as are all baptisias.

Chrysanthemum buff? There is a hot new florist’s mum out this year…Dendranthema ‘Fireworks Igloo’.

(According to the 1999 ruling by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, florist’s mums were returned to the Chrysanthemum genera, making Dedranthema obsolete. Hence, I am a little confused over this name. Nothing new, I might add!)

Proper name aside…this plant’s gorgeous spidery petals of pink totally cover its entire mounding form. Wonderful pizzazz for an autumn garden.

I like wallflowers and Erysimum ‘Honeyberry’ is as lovely as its name. Variegated sage-green edged in butter-yellow foliage is a subtle backdrop for the vibrant magenta-purple flowers.

An early bloomer, the flowers will mellow out to a soft mauve shade so they will not steal the whole spring show. However, we likely will not add this beauty to our garden as it is only hardy to Zone 7 and we lose them reliably in our Zone 7a garden…unless we take cuttings.

Remember: USDA plant zones are not the same as Canada’s. In determining our zone designations, we take into account more environmental variables. If the label states Zone 7, it is hardy only to Zone 8 in Canada.

One last plant I have to rave about is Eupatorium ‘Capri’.

This Joe Pye weed is shorter than its six foot cousins and has variegated frilly leaves for a change of pace. The summer-blooming, frothy pink flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Out of space and I have not mentioned the new hydrangeas, helleborus, heuchera, ornamental trees, a lavender…or all the new vegetable varieties! So keep your eyes open at those nurseries!

Yup. My 2014 New Year’s Resolution…to have the best gardening year ever!

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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